Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tips on gettting Upgraded

Traveling comes in all shapes sizes and forms. We all have different tastes, some of us prefer small personalized hotels, others large. One thing that must be a constant though, comes in the form of air travel- we all enjoy being upgraded.

Whether you normally travel in economy, or business class, it is always something that comes as a pleasurable surprise when we learn that we have been upgraded, at no cost to ourselves.

Although pleasurable, and not something that most of us would turn down, upgrades can be a rather damaging thing. If you normally travel in economy class, due to the price of the ticket, then an upgrade to business will open your eyes to a new world that can very easily damage your view and enjoyment of traveling back in "coach". The same applies to a certain extent from business to first. We have heard many frequent traveller praise that airline for upgrading them and then admit "I wish they hadn't as it is going to be so difficult to fly again in the back of the bus"

Ofcourse this is what the airlines are hoping for, they are hoping that the upgrade they have given to you, will convert an economy class traveller to business and business to first. The upgrades are also used as a loyalty bonus and a way to say thank you for your business. or if you want the truth- away to get the airlines out of a spot of trouble because of over booking.

Most airlines upgrade passengers because they overbook their flights. This happens because the airlines have to count into their figures a certain amount of cancellations and a few no shows, when the passengers do turn up then the airline needs space, especially at the back of the plane and this is when the upgrading begins.

The first thing you need to do is join the airlines frequent flyer program. Almost every airline in the world has its own frequent flyer program, and to make our lives as complicated as possible they are all different! Not to make things any simpler there programs then fall into different would alliance that include many different airlines each, such as the largest, Star Alliance and the more recent One World.

Joining the club if free and normally will mean points for each mile of travel earned and lots of other bonuses that can be used towards free flights and other goodies. Regarding upgrades, then the holders of the airlines frequent flyer club will have priority. That is to say if the airline needs to upgrade, then they will check who is a member and then upgrade them subject to their status. So if you are the only member on the plane, you stand a very good chance of turning left rather than right upon boarding.

The complication to this rule is in the status of the membership, most clubs have different membership levels and obviously the higher your status the more priority you h ave.

If you are fortunate to be of the higher membership level, then there are a few little tricks to help you get upgraded. There tricks do not always work, and may even have a little risk attached, but a worth a try and are probably the best shot you have of being upgraded. If when you book your flight ask the airline if the flight is busy, if you can get into the busiest flight or even ask to be on waitinglist and you do manage to get onto the plane then there is a very good chance that you will be upgraded, for the reasons mentioned earlier. This also means however that if you are not upgraded then you will end up on a very busy plane!

The search for an upgrade does not stop here, however. Whether you are a member or not it is worthwhile being nice to the person who checks you in, they may not (and normally do not) have the authority to upgrade at their own discretion but the check-in staff can help. Ask the staff to put a message in the system that if their is to be any upgrades you would really appreciate being included.

At this stage of the flight (check-in) it does help to be dressed suitably although not as helpful as most people would have you believe. There have been many reports on how to get upgraded and a lot do stress the importance of your appearance, it is not half as important as being a member of the club or even just being nice to the man or lady at check in but does help

First and business class has improved enormously over the past few years. Virgin offers massages in flight and is introducing double beds to its Upper Class cabin. All Nippon Airways has two work stations on some of its flights that allows you to sit at a desk and work on your laptop using a special electric supply, Singapore Airlines has a full bed in its first class cabin that has a 17 inch television with remote to give you a real media experience in-flight, and the list goes on and on.

At the end of the day getting upgraded is not as easy thing to achieve, however joining the frequent flyer program will definitely help and will offer you a whole world of other benefits.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Travel Cambodia

Cambodia, has only recently started developing its tourism infrastructure and still has a long way to go. It does however have some amazing sights to offer tourists, and once the infrastructure and perhaps more importantly, peoples perceptions, have changed for the better, Cambodia will surely be a major tourist destination.

Airport Tax: There is an airport tax of US$ 20 upon departure. This is usually not included in the price of your ticket, so ensure that you have US$20 spare in cash and per person by the end of your trip which is payable at the airport.

Airport Taxi: We advise you to arrange an airport pick up with the hotel where you will be staying, if however you prefer to go local, then a taxi from Pochentong International Airport (Phnom Penh) will take roughly 15 minutes and cost approximately US$7, and from Siem Reap Airport to Siem Reap City roughly 10 minutes and approx. US$5.

Banking: Banks are generally open from 8am to 4 pm weekdays and from 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Business Hours: Generally speaking the official business hours are from 8am to 12pm and 2pm to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, some businesses are open Saturdays for a half day from 8am to 12pm. Opening times of Government offices are different and they are open 7:30am to 11:30 and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday

Electricity: Voltage in Cambodia is 220 volts AC, 50HZ

Language: Khmer is the first language, and English second, French seems to be fading fast as a language within Cambodia.

Photography: Photography in airports, railway stations and near any military installations is forbidden and discretion should be used when photographing people especially monks.

Religion: The official religion is Theravada Buddhism and roughly ninety percent of Khmer follow this religion.

Social Greeting: Cambodia greet each other with a slight bow and a prayer like gesture called a Sompeah with the younger or lower ranked person normally initiating the gesture. For foreigners and business handshakes are acceptable.

Visa: Applications for VISAS can be done on arrival (passport sized photos will be required). The VISA on arrival is valid for a thirty day stay and issued to tourists at a cost of US$20 and for business visitors at US$25 at the Pochentong International Airport, Siem Reap Airport and also International border check points. Visas can also be obtained from certain Royal Cambodian Embassies or Consulates around the world.

Water: Do not drink tap water, only drink bottled water.

Weather: Cambodia has a warm/ hot tropical climate that is relatively calm and consistent throughout the year. The average temperature is 27 degrees centigrade. There are two seasons, the humid and rainy monsoon season which spans from June to October and the dry season which is from November to May. The coolest period tends to be from December to January.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Travel Singapore

Singapore is a very modern and cosmopolitan city that offers all the best of East and West. An island of just 646 square kilometers Singapore is located 96 km. north of the equator.

For business travellers few countries are as convenient and efficient as Singapore, everywhere is usually reachable within 15 minutes, taxis are widely available (although when it is raining getting a taxi can be quite a challenge) and the underground system is easy to use and extremely efficient. Internet access is available pretty much everywhere and many hotels, restaurants and cafe's even offer Wi-Fi connectins.

For holiday travellers, Singapore offers everything you could want from a holiday, excellent restaurants, security, excellent entertainment options and some of the finest hotels in the world. Singapore does have beaches, particularly on Sentosa island, but we would recommend you to enjoy Singapore as a city rather than a beach holiday simply because a flight to the stunning islands of Thailand is so cheap and readily available

Singapore country code is 65

Travel Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an amazing place, fill of energy, life, new smells, sounds and amazing sights. Hong Kong, once you have visited, is one place that you will not and can not forget.

The harbour by itself is one the most famous sights in the world, and actually crossing the harbour by one of the famous star ferries is an absolute must both in the daytime and at night, be sure though to have your camera at hand to grasp the magical moment.

With so many things to do, great food, excellent night life, superb shopping and some outlying islands for you to discover and explore, you could very easily spend a wonderful if not hectic few days in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong hotels are among some of the finest in the world with prices to match all budgetary requirements.

Travel Vietnam

A truly beautiful country that is growing very quickly. Hanoi, in the North is a masterpiece of French architecture and Saigon in the South is a modern and fully up and coming city. Vietnam also offers some amazing pristine beaches that have largely been untouched by tourism.

Vietnam has a population of around 80 million inhabitants, with 54 ethnic groups. The country is divided into 64 provinces with the capital being hanoi. There is a lot of competition between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi with both cities having their own stock exchanges. For tourism, it is fair to say that Hanoi is the capital as there is so much to offer. Whether it be architecture, lakes or side trips such as to the beautiful and must-do Halong bay.

Travel Thailand

Many people when arriving in Thailand, do not really know what to expect and know very little about the country and the people. However, once they have been to Thailand once or twice, they will surely return. It is a kingdom that offers many marvels of undiscovered enchantment. With surprises and delights around every corner your trip to Thailand will open your eyes to a new world.

Thailand covers an area of 513,115 in the heart of South East Asia, and shares its borders with Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean.
Thailand is broken onto 4 regions North, Central, North East and South.
North: is mountainous and full of forests ridges and spectacular valleys, the main city of this region is Chiang Mai, a very popular tourist destination.
Central: Rich valley is the most fertile and extensive rice producing area of Thailand and has often been named the Rice Bowl of the World. This is the region where Bangkok, the capital of Thailand is situated.
South: is a gem unto itself not only for the beauty of its beaches and landscape, but also as this is where many ores and minerals are to be found. The landscape is hilly to mountainous with lush virgin forests. This is also where the main rubber producing take place and the cultivation of many other tropical crops.

But who are the Thai people and where did they come from? It was originally thought that Thai people may orginated from the north-eastern Szechuan Province of China about 4,500 years ago before they migrated to their present homeland. This idea though has recently be put into question by the amazing discovery of pre-historic artifacts such as bronze metallurgy dating back some 3,500 thousand years. These artifacts were found in the village of Ban Chiang in the Nong Han District of Udon Thani Province in the Northeast. These amazing finds, indicate that the Thais may well have originated in Thailand and themselves moved into other areas of Asia.
Thailand until 1939 was known as SIAM and again between 1945 and 1949, but May 11, 1949 put an end to the confusion and Thailand became offically know as Prathet Thai or Thailand. For anyone who has been to Thailand they will not be surprised to learn the word Thai means FREE so Thailand actually means The land of the Free.
The population of Thailand is around 60 million with an annual growth rate of around 13%. Although there is absoulte religious freedom 95% of the Thai people follow Buddhism.

Thailand is a hot and rather humid tropical country. In fact many people living in Thailand joke that it has 3 seasons, hot, hotter and hottest- this easily believed. The climate is monsoonal, marked by a rainy season lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of the year. The rainy season will amaze many tourist as it can rain very heavily sometimes for up to just 10 minutes a go, but the sheer volume of water is incredible. Temperatures are highest in March and April and lowest in December and January. The average temperature is about 23 to 35 Celsius.

One of the most beautiful apsects of the Thai people is their respect and enormous love for their monarchy. It is very unwise and actually could lead to seious trouble to say anything bad about the monarchy. They are loved dearly and you will never hear a Thai utter a bad word.

The National Flag of Thailand is composed of 5 horizontal bands of red, white and blue. The outer red bangs of red represent the nation and the inner bands of white evoking religion. The blue band, which occupies one third of the flag is symbolizes the monarchy. This tri coloured flag was first designed by King Vajirauadh (Rame VI) in 1917 and it suceeded and earlier design which had a white elephant on a red background.

Thailand truely is an amazing place, with so much to offer to tourists. The regular and most popular destinations of Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, samui, Chiang Mai etc. are only a small part of the country and there are so many mroe undiscovered charms to be found.