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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 42 total)

  • miningguy
    Participant

    Having the ability to fly virtually for free, these sums are not paltry to someone running their own consultancy business….

    Could not agree more. For us, running a small consultancy, the Avios we earn enable my family to fly more or less for free for short haul. (Long haul doesn’t seem to work out so well for us either). BA’s OnBusiness also allows us to “double dip” on miles too (although for reward flights they aren’t as generous).

    So in short, the Avios mileage scheme keeps us very loyal to BA (although we will always reject absurdly high fares). Would we prefer a better service, newer planes etc? Yes of course, but the resulting “free travel” is worth the short term discomfort. If the Avios scheme was to become less generous…..or if we became less cash constrained, then we would not hesitate to look elsewhere…..BA with the cut backs have not done much to endear us recently!


    miningguy
    Participant

    I flew BA out of Accra last year. I was flying with a customer. We were both in Economy (for the cost of the ticket, it’s very hard to justify anything else for 6 hours). Checking in at the counter, I casually (and jokingly) stated that WT+ would really be better for us. To my astonishment, the lady tapped some keys and spat out two new boarding passes for WT+. I assume that we had already been automatically upgraded but this was a nice touch. (My customer who rarely travels was somewhat astonished by the whole thing). When we arrived at the gate, I then ended up being bumped to Club. So all in all, a great trip…although in 10 years of flying, that’s the first time asking for an upgrade has got me anywhere! This was also a good reminder to me that being as courteous as possible to people when traveling is normally the best way to go about things!

    in reply to: Blagging an upgrade

    miningguy
    Participant

    Whilst I go to West Africa quite a bit, I have never been to Sierra Leone (although colleagues whom have visited all agree that this is by far one of the least developed countries on the continent). Getting to/from the airport in Freetown is famously a bit of a mare:

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g293833-c97305/Freetown:Sierra-Leone:Crossing.From.Lungi.Airport.To.Freetown.html

    Apparently, if you are going to Makeni region, you can avoid going into Freetown and just go straight from the airport.

    I would recommend getting a guide book. (They are sometimes a bit more catered to backpackers but they do contain good logistical advise. I just had a disaster with the terrible Lonely Plant West Africa guide…..so I’ve included the recently released Bradt one – the previous edition has good reviews).

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sierra-Leone-Bradt-Travel-Guides/dp/1784770639/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515835395&sr=8-1&keywords=sierra+leone+guide

    Also some general West Africa advice (sorry I am not sure if you have been elsewhere on the continent):

    – Relax…things do happen a bit more slowly. Drink beer and have something to read.
    – Stay away from exotic Western food that has possibly defrosted 6 times on its way to the middle of the country 🙂
    – Brush your teeth with bottled water
    – Cover up at night to avoid mosquitos and other insects.
    – Use a mosquito net
    – Don’t travel around with lots of expensive gear/jewelery. Leave it at home.
    – Be careful in the streets
    – Take sufficient currency; out of large cities ATMs/credit card machines are often non-existant. I’m not sure about USD – in some African countries it can become a real pain always having to change money (and risk getting ripped off)

    Finally…enjoy yourself. Africa is friendly, loud, fun and quite an experience. People are overwhelmingly hospitable and courteous to visitors. I love it.


    miningguy
    Participant

    Have to say, the lounge that exceeded my expectations is the British Airways domestic lounge at Johannesburg. Great selection of fresh(!) food including fruit. Free massages, good wine selection, good coffee, lovely staff. For domestic flights this was quite astonishing (and a sharp contrast to the international and BA UK lounges).

    Used the Quantas First Lounge at LAX recently. Also very nice.


    miningguy
    Participant

    Swissdiver, I was actually going to post on this a few months back but completely forgot. Yes, the lounge really is very impressive – in my opinion it beats the JNB BA Gold lounge hands down. With free spa treatment and a great range of **fresh** food, I found it hard to believe I was just transiting domestically. I’ve attached a pic that I took of the fruit selection (to irritate my wife stuck in the LHR BA lounge)

    re: Transiting from International to International. Up until last year, I regularly used to go Zambia > JNB > UK. With often a 10-12 hour layover, I would just go through normal immigration, spend the day with friends in Jo’burg and then go back through immigration in the evening. I never had issues with this.

    Attachments:
    in reply to: JNB

    miningguy
    Participant

    Yeah we had similar thoughts and therefore didn’t mention the “solution”; just simply the “CSD quickly and promptly found a solution to our dilemma. She was thoughtful and clearly cared very much about bring us some satisfaction. BA are very lucky to have such a great team member”.

    in reply to: BA – Advice please!

    miningguy
    Participant

    @Capetonian

    – Submitted a Golden Ticket for the CSD.
    – Written a letter to BA re: the whole drama.

    Company creeping towards a point where I can also become a little less cost sensitive 🙂 A few more years of BA to go though!

    in reply to: BA – Advice please!

    miningguy
    Participant

    All – many thanks for your response and advice. I perhaps should have been clear that our flight home was via Jo’burg on the A380. What ended up happening wasn’t really what we expected……

    We arrived at CPT. They couldn’t change our seat on the CPT>JNB flight for “operational reasons”. We thus had to negotiate with our fellow passengers who obligingly moved. Not an issue but we were both left slightly more irritated. At JNB, the same story. BA check-in staff were unable to change the due to operational reasons. Irritation levels continued to grow. Surely this was a reasonable request?

    Boarding was fine but packed with many families coming home from Easter. However once onboard, it was clear that neither the crew nor many of the passengers were very happy. People with re-assigned family seats were complaining (this was a packed family orientated flight). A couple next to the emergency exit who paid for the seat allocation had broken screens. Unfortunately the lady who had ‘taken’ my seat turned out to have walking difficulties. This somewhat diffused our anger. It wasn’t her fault and I only wish BA could have dealt with this better. Still we were left with the prospect of my wife, in a middle seat, alone, trying to breast feed/get up for nappy changes every 2 hours – clambering over the poor lady who needed assistance to stand.

    As we taxied for take off, my wife and the mother next to her began breastfeeding (2 babies obviously! This helps with a babies ears during take off). At this point, the stewardess barked at my wife and the lady to turn the babies around for take off. The reaction was two tired mothers both barking back something along the lines of “get stuffed”.

    After take off, 20 minutes went by and a bassinet had still not arrived. 10 further minutes went by and eventually I got up to see what the delay was. Further down the plane, I noticed 1 bassinet already up…but other babies still sprawled on parents laps. I asked a Mum and was informed that the plane had not loaded enough for the journey. Stunned, I walked to the galley demanded to know who was the CSD who duely raised a hand. Barely able to speak due to my anger , I explained that this wasn’t good enough, we spent £1000+ on each of our tickets, both my wife and I are Silver/Gold etc. At that point, the CSD interuppted me with “We have a spare seat in First, how about I pop your wife and child in there? Would that help to resolve the issue?”. Utterly stunned, with the wind take out of my sails, I managed a “Yes, wow, thank you, yes this resolves it”.

    So my wife and baby spent the flight in First. The couple with the broken screens ended up being bumped to club too. We were happy – to my relief nobody in First objected to my wife and little (quiet) boy being there. (sadly the remainder of the parents who didn’t rant and rave just had to put up with no cots).

    I feel that what the CSD did was very unorthodox but dealt commendably with what was a miserable situation for 2 frequent flyers. We never get to fly First, so this was a great way of getting us to stop frowning. The CSD came to see my wife 2 further times during the trip.

    I do however remain baffled as to how the handful of BA people we spoke to in the 24 hours leading to this were just completely unable to do anything about the problem (and really we didn’t ask to be bumped up by 4 cabins, we just needed two seats next to each other). As a company director running a small, specialist consultancy, I get to choose who we fly with…but unfortunately due to the places we go to, BA remains by far the best airline although we are getting increasingly fed up with crap service. The actions of the CSD have led me to give BA a “last chance”; but I do wonder if we just got lucky with our good resolution. Whilst we will continue with BA for now, I think back to the very miserable families who endured the journey minus cots. Will they book again with BA? Or next time will they choose other airlines offering good prices down to JNB?

    BTW – Cape Town was just wonderful 🙂

    in reply to: BA – Advice please!

    miningguy
    Participant

    **Loved Routes **

    LHR > CPT – the landing in Cape Town with Table Mountain in view just fills me with joy.
    MAD > LIM – Long day flight. I love the escapism of just watching movies with no emails/phone calls.
    Sweden > Kiruna – In winter time, seeing the sunset (at lunchtime!) in the arctic is just spectacular. I do this trip at least 4 times a year.
    MWANZA by private plane up to a remote mine – stunning African scenary straight over the game reserve!

    ** Hated Routes **

    – LGW to Surinane via POS with a stopover in St Lucia (and rtn). Nothing at all can make this trip enjoyable (about 23 hours door to door for me).
    – Anywhere routed through MIA. (Customs/Immigration a nightmare)
    – Any redeye from US to UK. (I think we all agree there!)


    miningguy
    Participant

    Agree fully with capetonianm.

    I have had some fabulous experiences in their long haul Biz Class – good food, lovely staff, great seat. Much much better then BA.

    Their ground handling on the other hand I have just found terrible. In Madrid, I found the staff obnoxious. In London there is little representation. (They lost my bag on 7 out of 10 flights to Peru in about a 12 month period so I did get enough exposure to to get a good average of their attitude!)

    Their Economy product, both long and short haul however is pretty poor. Whilst they have much nicer planes then BA (well certainly to the destinations I fly to!), the vast majority of the crew just seem to treat economy passengers with utter disdane.


    miningguy
    Participant

    Martyn, if you are still able to contact this firm then you can ask them to “request a Google Crawl”. This basically this is a manual way of suggesting to the Google search engine that the site needs re-indexing.

    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6065812?hl=en

    You can check to see if it’s done (normally 2-3 days after) by typing site:www.[thewebsite].[com or whatever].


    miningguy
    Participant

    MarcusGB, AirBnB has really tightened up in the past few years. Their (mandatory) insurance means that guests and hosts are covered for damage, injuries etc. Booking through their system also provides certain guarantees and refunds can be given. Tax etc is also much more heavily scrutinised. I am an AirBnB host, and like many of the hosts out there, I do very much pride myself on the house we rent out and the efforts we go to to satisfy our guests.

    Whilst I imagine some places could be a bit down at heel (which may be great for a gap year student on a low budget), there really are some great premium apartments available. I stay in a great place in Lima that is on the edge of the sea and for extended stays, I prefer this to the anonymity of a hotel stay. It also allows me to cook(!)

    On another note and unrelated to your post, AirBnB and similar services (i.e. Uber) are a fantastic new way for young, entrepreneurial people to earn a living. For countries with stagnant economies, they are becoming a life line.

    in reply to: AIRBNB (new user)

    miningguy
    Participant

    Hi Martyn,

    My wife and I own an AirBnB property (Italy) and regularly use AirBnB as well. In the past month, I have used AirBnB in Cape Town and in Tobago. Both experiences have been great. Here are some tips:

    1. Really really pay attention to the reviews. If this is an extended stay, go to the extent of checking out the profilers of some reviewers…..everyone’s taste/requirements are different so a quick check that there person who’s review you have given is perhaps of similar inclination! (i.e. if its a 18 y/o backpacker, and you aren’t (or vice versa!) then there is a good chance that you priorities might be different)

    2. Check out the area on Google Street View. This gives a good idea without the possibility of framed photographs. (i.e. is this property really at the top of Table Mountain or has the person just randomly uploaded a local pic!)

    3. For business ensure that there is WiFi. Make a big deal of it. Some countries (i.e. South Africa!) still often see WiFi as an eccentric luxury. It isn’t.

    4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. If there is a great but slightly expensive place, ask for a deal! (people on AirBnB are by nature normally quite entrepreneurial)

    On a less measurable note, staying AirBnB properties can provide a much more local and enjoyable aspect to your trip. Our guests always rave about our local Italian neighbours who always chat to them when they walk by – they get many tips and insights about the region that you just can’t get staying in a hotel.

    Hope that helps.

    in reply to: AIRBNB (new user)

    miningguy
    Participant

    Hi Jess, I’m 34 and 12 days so I guess I qualify. I run my own business which is a self funded startup in the mining sector. We are 3 strong and travel about 50-70% of the time. Travel is very much centred around our customer’s travel policy.

    What hotels do I use? I normally travel to quite ‘exotic’ places where the chains aren’t always prevalent – if they are then its an outrageously priced Hilton in the capital city. Regardless, I tend to prefer boutique hotels and those with a bit of character. The big killer for me however is poor WiFi. I work in a very specialised IT sector and often, bizarrely, the chain hotels are worse with restrictive WiFi that prevents many VPN connections.

    What don’t I like about travel? Queuing, waiting in line at customs, flying through most US airports, being forced to fly economy about 50% of the time. Also, dealing with the appalling service in Economy in some carriers (Iberia being one of them where biz is great, but in economy they treat customers with Ryanair like disdain). I also resent being forced to pay for water on a number of the legacy carriers including I think soon BA. Did i mention queuing?

    Do I do other activities when I travel? Yes! I will always try to spend time during the layover basically acting like a backpacker again 🙂

    Hope that helps


    miningguy
    Participant

    I booked a flight today, and for some reason, it had automatically deducted “50,000 avios to reduce the flight cost by £300” from my account. I always decline this option as I am not the one paying for my flights. I called the gold line and the helpful chap on the phone explained that he had had a number of customers with the same problem today. Unfortunately the only option was for them to cancel the ticket and for me to purchase a new one. A bit frustrating and time consuming but relieved that I got the Avios back (my wife would have been less than amused)

    in reply to: Which major airline?
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 42 total)
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