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Friday 5 December, 2008
The year is coming up the home straight to
its certain conclusion, and
the malls are filling with people who don't seem to be enjoying
Christmas cheer at all, but rather are looking harried and tense while
they race around buying gifts for people who many times they'd rather
not buy things for, and, in turn, are anticipating getting gifts they
don't want from people they don't much like. Ah - such is the
spirit of modern day Christmas.
As for me - ha! I'm off to Budapest
later today to join this year's Christmas Markets Cruise. 26
readers and I will be enjoying ourselves and experiencing an uplifting
traditional Christmas season in the towns and cities along the Danube,
climaxing with a lovely stay in beautiful Prague. The Europeans
seem to still be able to imbue Christmas with a positive spirit of
happiness, true enjoyment and community fellowship.
This means there'll be no newsletter next
week - but please do think of me, sipping a mug of gluhwein and
enjoying some 'Christmas cheer', somewhere
on the Danube.
On a similar topic, I've an early Christmas
present for you this year. Actually, I have 68 of them, each one
worth $500-700. Do keep reading, because this is an amazing
I'm offering 68 of Amawaterways' 2009
cruises, all with a discount of at least $500 per person off their published
prices. In addition to my gift to you of $500 per person, you
might also get a further $100 discount for being an AARP member, and yet
another $100 if you're a past Amawaterways passenger.
And - here's the really good part.
This isn't some nasty last minute special on a cruise no-one wants. This includes cruises
on all 16 of their itineraries, across the European river system
and extending to Russia and over to Istanbul as well. There are
cruises pretty much all year from the start of the season in April
through December 2009. No matter where you might want to go and
when, there's a good chance there's a cruise saving for you!
I've prepared a lengthy page
listing all the different discounted cruises, and with links to the
Amawaterways site for more information. But - please remember - to get these
discounts, you have to book through me. Amawaterways won't give
them to you.
These are available for a limited time only,
and there are not a lot of cabins at these prices. So go have a look at the huge
list of discounted cruises now and decide which one should be your
special Christmas treat to yourself and your significant other.
I'm experimenting with a new internet
service called Twitter. If
you already use Twitter, please consider 'following' me. And if you
don't already use Twitter, you're welcome to try it (it is free) and see if it is of
Basically it seems to be a way of sending short text message
type messages to people who may be interested in what one has to say -
sort of the next step of evolving informality beyond blogging; I'll be using it for
thoughts and experiences during my travels over the next twelve days.
And I'll use it for quick preview comments on things that either don't make
the weekly newsletter or to give advance notice of things prior to the
I'm as yet undecided if it is a gimmick or a
good idea, but it seems harmless enough to try. My ID on
Twitter is davidrowell - here's a
This week's feature article, on Harrison Hot
Springs in Canada, spans four web pages and totals 9726 words. To put
this into perspective, it is six words for every man, woman and child
living in the small town!
I was initially attracted to the town by a
misunderstanding - I had wrongly thought it had hot
springs all around the place, as the name implied, and as the names of
many of the hotels/motels implied too, rather akin to
Rotorua in New Zealand.
This turned out to be a misunderstanding. There
is only one spring, and its water is owned by the major resort in town,
which gifts some of the water to a public pool, but nowhere else. Worse still, the
water is filtered to remove a lot of its mineral distinctiveness, and
then it is chlorinated (yuck).
But if you're looking for an
underdeveloped and unsophisticated getaway not far from Vancouver or
Seattle, this is a good choice that you probably wouldn't otherwise have
thought of. And so, here is :
This Week's Feature Column :
Harrison Hot Springs, BC : It's a sleepy little town, in a
beautiful natural setting, and conveniently close to Vancouver or
Seattle to make for a great weekend getaway, or an easy extension to a
visit to either place. Here's absolutely everything you'd ever
want or need to know about the town.
I got a great new gadget in the mail yesterday. Those of us with iPhones know that a big problem is its short battery life. It is
often difficult to get through a single day without needing to recharge
the phone. The newer 3G iPhone can consume its battery life even
faster, particularly if you're using its high speed internet. The
inability to carry a spare charged battery and swap batteries if needed
just makes things even worse.
And so, inevitably, there's an after-market solution now available.
Called a 'Mophie' this is a sleeve into which you slide your iPhone.
The sleeve contains an external battery pack that doubles the battery
life of your phone. Simple, effective, ingenious. It is
$100, and available from Amazon and doubtless elsewhere too.
Note the Amazon link also shows a lower priced unit from Kensington,
which is not as functional or well designed and doesn't add as much
extra charge, but might be adequate if you're searching for an emergency
In addition to these battery extenders for iPhones, they're designing
them for iPod Touch players too, and hopefully they might also come up
with units for other battery-challenged phones like the T-Mobile G1.
As you may have noticed, battery life is currently precariously balanced
between, on the one hand, new devices which require more battery power
to drive their larger brighter color displays and faster CPUs, and on
the other hand, battery technology which is only slowly moving forwards
and struggling (not always successfully) to keep pace with the
increasing power needs of the latest and greatest gadgets. The
last big 'breakthrough' - Lithium powered batteries - have now become a
relatively mature technology, and until the next big breakthrough
occurs, there will be an increasing need for clever devices such as this Mophie battery extender sleeve.
Mind you, let's not take the advances that
have occurred for granted. I got a new camcorder yesterday, in
time for the upcoming cruise (what's next - Travel Insider videos on
YouTube? - wait and see.....) and, as I always do, marveled at the
increased miniaturization and sophistication of the unit. This
latest unit, with tiny sized batteries that last an amazingly long time,
has as its major claim to fame the ability to record its video onto
flash cards. It doesn't use tape, and neither does it use a hard
drive. This allows it to be much smaller, and saves a lot on
battery life, too. The only moving parts now are the optics.
I still remember the sense of pride in my first
ever camcorder - it was one of those ones you hefted onto your shoulder
to use, and its battery packs alone were larger and weighed much more
than a complete camcorder does today (while providing dismayingly short
battery life - one had to travel with three or four for a day of
One last gadget thing - I am eagerly looking
forward to my flights today, because I think I've found a game changing
new set of noise cancelling headphones that promise to knock the Bose
Quiet Comfort 2 headphones off their 'best of breed' perch. If
you're considering buying some high end headphones for yourself or
someone else this Christmas, wait until I have a chance to comment on
these amazing new Sony MDR-NC500D Digital Noise Cancelling Headphones.
Their new twist on the noise cancelling concept is to use a digital
signal processor rather than an analog feedback loop. My testing on the
ground suggests them to be extraordinary, but the acid test will come on
the flight this evening. I'll post a twitter message as soon as
I'm off the flight on Saturday summarizing my findings.
And what a change that will be for me.
My usual headphone review runs maybe 2000 words or more. A Twitter
message is limited to 140 characters. I might have to cheat and
split my review summary into two Twitter messages!
Blast from the Past :
Appropriately enough, this time in 2001 I was writing a review of the
Bose Quiet Comfort noise cancelling
headphones. They've now been superseded by the significantly
improved Quiet Comfort 2, and Bose has also come out with a different
design Quiet Comfort 3 (on the ear rather than over the ear) headphone,
although I feel it to be not quite as good as the Quiet Comfort 2.
In 2002 I was talking about
the threat posed by man-portable surface to
air missiles, a threat which remains in place to this day, but which
mercifully hasn't manifested itself in a tangible reality. Yet.
And in 2003 I offered a Christmas Gift
Giving Guide - I'd hoped to do one this year but somehow a time warp
compressed the time between 'too soon for a gift guide' and 'too late
for one'. Sadly, all the items suggested in 2003 are either
obsolete or no longer products I can recommend, so I'm not even going to
link to that, but if you use a bit of cleverness, I'm sure you could
track it down if for some strange reason you wanted to.
A question to you : I've been offering
these blasts from the past for a month or so now. Do you like
them? Let me know and I'll either continue them or stop them.
Please simply click on the link below to let
me know one way or the other, and if you've no strong feeling either
way, simply don't bother responding. Clicking on the link will
send me an empty email with your answer automatically coded into the
continue your Blasts from the Past
focus on today's issues, not those of 5, 6 and 7 years ago
Dinosaur watching : Which came
first, the chicken or the egg? Or, in airline terms, which is
driving the other? The airlines' capacity cuts, or the drops in
passenger numbers? Seems to me they're both chasing each other
at present, and - surprise, surprise - the airline's pride at their
'clever' move of reducing capacity so as to force people to pay higher
fares is being exposed as the nonsense that it always promised to
The airlines had earlier claimed that the
reason they were not profitable was because there were too many flights
and too many unsold seats on these flights, forcing them to discount
their fares to get people to fill the planes. And so, their
solution was to reduce the number of flights they operated, believing
this would force people into paying higher fares (that was the bit I
never understood or accepted, and was based on the airlines' persistent
refusal to accept that passengers will buy more travel if fares are low,
but less travel if fares are high).
Before looking at the success of their
strategy (or, should I say, abject failure), let's just keep in
mind that at the same time the airlines were complaining about too many
flights, their flights were departing with more sold seats than ever
before in aviation history.
Anyway, this year has seen regular
reductions in airline capacity, and matching reductions in passenger
numbers, without any clear lifts in average fares sold, other than
that brought about by air fare increases.
The latest results fail to show much good
coming from this 'shrink to succeed' philosophy. For November,
American Airlines reported a 19.3% drop in domestic revenue
passenger miles and a 15% drop in capacity, with a resulting load factor
of planes averaging 77.7% full.
United had a similar result - an 18.3%
drop in domestic RPMs and a more closely matching 17% drop in
capacity, for a 79.1% load factor. Continental also was closely
the same - a domestic drop of 15% in RPMs and a 12.4% reduction in
capacity, making for a 80.6% load factor.
Even Southwest had a bad month, with a drop
of 8.3% in passenger numbers on unchanged capacity, making for a much
more comfortable 63.2% load factor. But this 8.3% drop is about
half the drop at AA, CO and UA - even in bad times, Southwest
continues to pull ahead of the pack.
Things are a little better in Canada.
Air Canada had a mere 4.4% drop in RPMs (and a 7.3% cut in
capacity), and rival airline Westjet reported a massive 14% increase
in RPMs, with a matching 14% increase in capacity too.
So, what does this tell us?
Empirically, the airlines with the biggest capacity cuts lost the most
passengers, more or less matching their capacity cuts, while those with
the least capacity cuts (Southwest and Air Canada) had the least drops
in passengers, and the airline that added extra flights experienced
matching increases in passenger numbers.
Okay, so I'm massively oversimplifying
things. Of course there's more at play than a simple and direct
correlation between capacity cuts/increases and matching passenger
losses/gains, but it does suggest the airline's 'Anti Field of
Dreams' concept (ie 'If we close down a ball park, people will pay
more to go to the other ball parks') is as flawed as it intuitively
always seemed to be.
Here's a simple lesson for the airlines -
high fares and fewer flights discourage passengers from flying.
Airlines should be laughing all the way
to the bank at present, and airfares should be at historic lows.
Oil is now below $50 a barrel, at prices the
lowest of any time in the last four years, and is continuing to drop
further. At the same time, the airlines have massively improved
their cost structures. Fewer staff are employed, those that remain
are necessarily working harder but earning less, reducing airline labor
costs (which along with fuel are the two biggest costs for any airline).
With planes operating with substantially
more passengers on each flight than ever before, the airlines are
enjoying the opposite of a 'perfect storm' - their fuel costs are
way down (AA is expected to save $3.5 billion on its fuel bill next
year, and similar numbers will apply to the other airlines), their staff
costs are way down, their efficiencies are way up, and - let's not
forget - they're now providing fewer free services than ever before, and
charging outrageous sums for everything that was formerly free.
So get ready for humungous profits from
the airlines - at least in theory. At present the airlines
don't have a single thing to complain about except dwindling passenger
numbers, and with all the other positive factors above, a few less
passengers either doesn't matter, or can readily be brought back by
adding flights and dropping fares.
And, can I mention again, can we please
see those fuel surcharges dropped? Every fuel surcharge added
over the last four years should now be zeroed out.
A similar request should be made to the
cruise lines, too; who are showing themselves to be no more eager to
give back their fuel surcharges than the airlines. They're
responding to the drop in fuel by converting the money you pay in a fuel
surcharge to a 'ship board credit'. Am I alone in wishing not to
have to pay this at all, and then being free to decide how many
overpriced tours and drinks I buy on board, or not?
As an aside - my good friends at
Amawaterways never added a fuel surcharge, and similarly never added an
exchange rate surcharge either - not even in the darkest days of
July when oil was $150 and the Euro was $1.60. That shows a rare
high-mindedness that should be honored by us if/when we choose to take a
European river cruise in the future.
Travel agents fight back. In
the US, when airlines started cutting back on travel agent commissions
in a series of steps that ended up in their virtually complete
elimination, travel agents weakly protested, but ineffectually and with
no result. The result now is the massive inequity that travel
agents get paid nothing by airlines for selling their tickets.
In India, the major Indian airlines have
just announced they will stop paying Indian travel agents a 5%
commission on ticket sales. But the Indian travel agencies aren't
taking this lying down. Instead, they have announced they will
refuse to sell tickets on the largest of the Indian airlines, Jet
Airways. Being as how travel agents represent something like 90%
of all ticket sales for Jet Airways, and right around 90% of all travel
agencies have agreed to honor the boycott, it will be interesting to see
what happens next. More details
Good on them - I wish them luck. It
has always struck me as ridiculously unfair that travel agents
are not paid for all the work and hassle they go to on behalf of the
airlines to sell airline tickets. What other industry fails to pay
the key retail outlet of their product/service?
Here's an interesting strategy :
Nevada is struggling with the impacts of dropping tourist numbers.
Fewer tourists not only mean less revenue for the hotels and casinos
(and restaurants, bars, taxis, airlines, airports, and so on all the way
through the Nevada economy) but also mean less sales tax and gaming tax
receipts for the state.
Six days before Nevada's annual tourism
conference was to be held - an event that you'd think would be of
increased importance this year - the state decided to cancel it.
Officials felt it wouldn't be prudent to hold the conference at a time
when money was tight. More details
Politicians seemed unanimous in agreeing this was a good idea.
As for me, I think it to be criminally
stupid and short sighted.
Airline mergers continue apace.
Lufthansa's board has agreed to the purchase of Austrian Airlines,
and - having had its offer for Alitalia spurned - is also creating its
own Italian airline too.
Lufthansa's acquisition streak also
includes Brussels Airlines and BMI - when it has completed the
acquisition of all these carriers it will become Europe's largest
airline, surpassing Air France/KLM and British Airways.
Except that BA isn't just sitting back
and watching LH grow. Currently BA is trying to create some
sort of vague 'tie-up' with American Airlines, plus it is attempting to
buy Spain's Iberia. And then, this week, immediately after the
Australian government said it would lift the cap on foreign ownership of
Qantas from 25% to 49%, BA announced a desire to merge with Qantas, too
(interestingly, prior to that announcement, Qantas had an appreciably
larger market capitalization than BA).
BA said it wished to consummate all three
deals, and that they weren't 'either/or' scenarios. But apparently
Iberia is now feeling a bit unloved, because it publicly told BA
that it must choose between either itself or Qantas, claiming it would
be too complex to pursue both deals.
That's strange reasoning from Iberia, and if
I were them, I'd not force BA to choose between me and Qantas. My
guess is that BA would sensibly seize Qantas in a nanosecond if it had
to choose between the two carriers.
Qantas and BA have enjoyed an
on-again/off-again relationship and ownership link for years. For
a while in the late 1990s/early 2000s BA owned 25% of Qantas, then
successively sold if off, and for the last four years has had no equity
interest, preferring instead to partner with Qantas through the Oneworld
alliance (Iberia and American are also Oneworld members).
Another on-again/off-again deal is
Ryanair's desire to buy Aer Lingus. While it is common to
describe Aer Lingus as a rival to Ryanair, there's really not a lot of
direct competition, and if Ryanair were to buy Aer Lingus, rather than
eliminating a competitor, it would instead be adding an entire new
dimension to its route system, including flights to the US, which is
something that Ryanair likes to posture about seeking, while doing
nothing to actually further its expressed desires.
Ryanair's earlier offer to buy Aer Lingus
was greeted with horror and alarm by both the airline and its current
25% owner, the Irish government. Ryanair's earlier offer of €2.80
a share, made in 2006, did not succeed, with Ryanair withdrawing its bid
and the EU finding that Ryanair buying Aer Lingus would be
However, Ryanair did get 29.8% of Aer
Lingus, and now has offered €1.40 a share to buy the airline. The
airline is negative about it, but the Irish government isn't quite as
negative about the offer as it was last time, so it will be interesting
to see what unfolds.
Lastly on the topic of airline mergers,
amusing case of what surely must be the pot calling the kettle
black. Delta, fresh from completing its merger with Northwest, is
now complaining about Continental wishing to work more closely with
While I'm not keen on further collusion
between airlines that are supposedly competitors, it is surely the
height of hypocrisy for recently merged DL/NW to complain about CO
attempting to weakly copy some of the same strategies.
Some interesting mini-facts. After US
Airways started charging $15 to check a first bag, the number of bags
checked dropped by 20%. At American, the result was similar,
with a 17% drop in checked bags.
And talking about bags, it seems that
luggage scales are being subjected to increasing scrutiny everywhere
in the country. The latest airport to be tested was Tucson, with
all the luggage scales at both Delta's and United's counters failing
tests. The last tests were in 2004, so perhaps this isn't
As at other airports in other states, the
Department of Weights and Measures declined to say if scales were
favoring the airlines or passengers. Why don't they tell us that?
Chris Elliott wrote an article 'Nine Ways
to Tell if Your Travel Agent is Crooked'. While I don't
disagree that some travel agents are crooked (happily most aren't), I
think his article over-simplifies some issues and don't accept all nine
of his ways are necessarily valid. If you're interested, you might
like to match his article with my quick responses below, which only
really make sense when read in conjunction with
1. A requirement for cash might be because the actual supplier of
the travel items requires payment in cash from the travel agent. There can be bona fide
reasons for requiring cash, and when a travel agent makes perhaps a 10%
commission, and a net profit of less than 1%, they can't afford to
absorb a 3% credit card fee.
2. Completely disagree. Do you know how much your realtor
stands to make when presenting you houses for you to potentially buy? Does he disclose 'this
house earns me 3% commission, but that house earns me only 2.5%
commission, and this house over there gives me a $2000 cash bonus
if I encourage you to make a full price offer'? Do you know how
much your mortgage broker makes on the loan he finds for you? And
when you go to buy something at a store, do you ask (and are you told?)
what bonuses and incentives exist for the store salesman on the
different brands of, eg, big screen tv that you're looking at?
Bonuses and overrides are many times required to be kept confidential by
the travel supplier, who does not want the travel agent disclosing that
information (I say this as both a former travel supplier and travel
agent). And, in many cases, individual travel agents don't know
the details of commission overrides and bonuses that are negotiated
by the agency owner/manager and suppliers.
3. Anyone can join ASTA just by paying their fee. An IATAN
card is similarly offered to any travel agent who works close to
full-time for an IATAN
accredited agency (and the IATAN accreditation is a trivial once-off
thing when an agency is first formed, and subsequently apart from
requiring a slightly skilled agency manager, is not repeated).
Many of the other 'certifications' are
laughably trivial in terms of their requirements to earn them. A
person who relies on paperwork to 'prove' their expertise is seldom
likely to be as skilled as the person who exudes competence from every
pore, based on actual experience.
5. I agree, but add the rider to this that of course travel agents
can't be experts on every destination, and it is naive to expect they
are or could be (even though some travel agents claim to be such experts
themselves!). Either accept their limitations in terms of specific
destination knowledge and use their skills for finding reliable
suppliers and good prices, or use a different specialty travel agent for
every place you go.
6. The Better Business Bureau is a self-appointed
arbiter of not very much, and having a 'rap sheet' (that's hardly a
neutral term to use!) doesn't necessarily mean anything at all other
than a company that refuses to be bullied by the BBB.
9. I've never heard of an agent saying 'no need to read the
insurance policy, it'll cover you', which is not to say it hasn't
happened. And while insurance commissions can sometimes be high
(but often aren't),
the reality is that travel agents must offer insurance to you to protect
themselves. I've known agents who have been sued by clients who
say 'you never offered us travel insurance, and if you had, of course
we'd have bought it, but you didn't, so we didn't, and now we have this
$5000 (or whatever) cost that would have otherwise been covered, so
therefore, you owe us the $5000'. See my two part article on
travel insurance for more discussion on this important topic.
From time to time, the concept of a
flying car emerges, and here's
another such recent re-appearance.
But let's not forget that, once upon a time,
there actually were flying cars. Okay, not many of them, but some.
And a few are still to be found.
If you'd like your own flying car, there's one of the original Aerocars
for sale on eBay. However, it is, ahem, somewhat costly!
Oh dear -
passengers stuck on a plane, on the tarmac, for nine hours.
What would you do if you were stuck on a
plane for nine hours? Usually we're never told that we'll be
sitting there for nine hours. Instead, we're spoonfed delays, half
an hour at a time, so that we're all tricked into thinking 'it is silly
to make a fuss now, if I'm patient for just another 30 minutes, we'll
finally get going'. Which is of course exactly what the airline
wants you to think.
I've often wondered what I'd do in such a
case. My current 'best idea' is to fake a medical emergency.
If one suddenly starts feeling short of breath and having chest pains,
but it subsequently turns out not to be a heart attack, well, I guess it
was just a stress attack that left no signs.....
Do you have any pet strategies to get off
a plane that you're being held captive on, while an airport gate is
tantalizingly visible, less than 100 yds away?
me know if you've any suggestions.
Oh - there's a bit of good news about
being trapped on planes. The Department of Transportation is
considering making this something you can locally sue airlines about.
The airlines say this would be a big mistake, which makes me think it is
probably an excellent idea. Let's hope it comes to pass.
Remember when oil prices were way high, the
airlines and various others including our political leaders had a stab
at blaming 'speculators' for artificially inflating the price of oil.
I said, at the time, this was nonsense.
Now that oil is below $50 a barrel, those claims have quietened back
down again, as indeed they should. But here's a very interesting
article about oil speculation which says there's more 'real'
speculation in oil now than there was when it was three times today's
I guess, if you've got a spare storage
facility that could hold a few million barrels of oil, now might be a
good time to fill it. Unless, of course, you agree with the
projections that suggest oil could drop as low as $25/barrel before
This Week's Security Horror Story :
It goes without saying that you know about the terrorist attack on
Mumbai last week. And now, predictably, some commentators are
proclaiming that up-market international hotels are a magnet for
terrorists, and are calling for improved security measures at such
establishments. They've got some valid points about why hotels are
indeed attractive targets for terrorists - for example, see
But what about increased security measures
at hotels? Alas, it is dangerously naive to think this would be
even remotely possible. Unless we make hotels as secure (or more
so!) than airplanes and airports, there'll always be the back door as
well as the front door, and many other unsecured means of hotel access.
Staff will have to be screened as well as guests, and staff will have to
be security checked before being hired. Every shipment of
anything, and every delivery to a hotel will have to be inspected.
Guest cars, taxis, delivery vans, etc, would all have to be stopped well
short of the hotel entrance and carefully searched before being allowed
to approach closer. This would be a nightmare in every respect.
However, even if all this was rigidly
enforced, it would be totally useless. When the terrorists
attacked the Taj hotel in Mumbai, they broke in through a back door, and
quickly encountered a security officer and his dog. It could be
said that hotel security was effective in this situation.
But what did the terrorists do?
Surrender meekly? Turn around and run away? No. They
simply shot both the officer and his dog, and continued their attack.
Nothing - other than twenty heavily armed
security people alertly guarding every entrance and vulnerable point -
can realistically defend a hotel against a group of ten determined
terrorists who don't care about being discovered, don't mind killing
anyone who stands in their way, and who simply want to invade a space
full of people and kill as many of them as possible before being, in
I've stayed at hotels with 'security', and
am thinking in particular of the Ritz-Carlton in Istanbul that I stayed
at late last year. To enter the hotel we had to go through a metal
detector, and our carry-on bags had to be X-rayed, just like at an
airport. Sounds good and secure? No, not at all.
Quite apart from all the unprotected access
points, I'm not certain what sort of inspection, if any, was given to
our main large suitcases! And, having our carry-on items go
through the X-ray machine? A great idea in theory, but many times,
no-one was watching the monitor screen to see whatever images might
appear on the screen as items went through the machine! Plus, if
the metal detector did beep, you'd usually be waved on through without
having to stop and submit to further searching. Lastly, later in
the evening, the security people would sometimes turn everything off
entirely and abandon all pretense at screening people entering the
hotel, especially if they recognized you as a current guest.
Don't get me wrong. I agree that
hotels are tempting targets for terrorists. But I can't see
anything that can effectively change that, short of turning them into
oppressive prisons - complete with the high walls, barbed wire, and
watchtowers manned by heavily armed guards and searchlights.
I don't want to be subjected to another
layer of security charade that would be even more meaningless than those
imposed on us at airports. At least airports are moderately
'hardened', and have spent millions of dollars on securing their entire
facility, and have reduced (but not eliminated) their vulnerabilities.
Hotels are none of these things; they've been designed to be open,
easily accessible, well laid out for people moving in and out and
through, and welcoming.
But, then again, I've less to fear than most
of you. I'm going to start making a point of taking my New Zealand
passport when I travel in the future!
Enough gloom. Particularly with the
festive season upon us, here's a
nice positive note to close on.
Please remember, there'll be no
newsletter next week, while I'm in Europe. But look for a
resumption of normal newsletters the following week, on 19 December.
Until then, please enjoy safe travels, and