Friday, December 31, 2010

Snow hits Cambodia tourism

Photo by: AFP
Snow still covers approaches to New York airport John F Kennedy International Airport.

THE Kingdom’s tourism industry is suffering the fallout of the giant snowstorm that blanketed the northeastern United States, according to government and private sector officials.

The impact was likely to be extensive, coming in peak tourism season, but it is difficult as yet to tell how many would-be tourists were forced to stay home, said Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

As many as 1.2 million airline customers may have been affected by almost 8,000 flight cancellations as the storm that hit three days ago closed major airports in the US.

Passengers were being forced to make new plans, sometimes without being able to reach airlines by phone or online for help.

Thong Khon said the storm had kept many North American visitors at home, he added that the Ministry of Tourism was closely observing the issue.

“It has happened too fast to know the impact [at this time],” he said.

Ho Vandy, co-chairman of the Tourism Working Group, confirmed that Cambodia has been impacted by the fallout from the American storms – even though there are no direct flights from the United States.

“We were still affected because many tourists entered Cambodia on direct flights from Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore,” he said.

Many tourists had seen their flights cancelled due to the storm, but he could not say how many were affected.

“We will check one by one with travel agents to figure that out,” he said.

Figures from the Ministry of Tourism released last week show the US as the fifth largest source of tourists to Cambodia, with 131,458 American arrivals in the first eleven months of this year.

Earlier this year, the domestic tourism sector faced fallout from cancelled flights follow the European ash cloud, Thong Khon said at the time.

Piyasvasti battles Thai Airways’ beasts

BANGKOK — Some years ago Thai Airways International ran a beautifully crafted television advertisement featuring a young Thai woman in elegant silk dress who bowed and made a hands-joined “wai” greeting. Once upon a time, she began, Thai was a small airline, but it made up for it by its warmth and superior standards. It grew, and here she extended her hands wider and wider as if encompassing …
Read more in the The Japan Times

Singapore Air New CEO May Exit Virgin as Asia Competition Grows

Singapore Airlines Ltd. ’s Goh Choon Phong , who takes over as chief executive officer tomorrow, may shed the last major remains of the carrier’s global expansion strategy as he confronts rising competition in Asia. - Read more on Bloomberg

Aviation Museums you should visit in Washington, D.C.

AIR AND SPACE/DOWNTOWN "Beyond: Visions of Our Solar System," through May 2. Open indefinitely: "The Wright Brothers and the Invention of the Aerial Age." "Explore the Universe." "How Things Fly." "America by Air." "Apollo to the Moon." "Early Flight." "Flight Simulator Zone." "Milestones of Flight." "Sea-Air Operations." "Space Race." "Moving Beyond Earth." An interactive exhibition that explores recent advances made in human spaceflight, including the space shuttle and space station. "Barron Hilton: Pioneers of Flight Gallery." The museum's exhibit of aviation and rocketry in the 1920s and '30s reopened with additional artifacts, such as Anne Lindbergh's telegraph key and hands-on activities for kids. Open from 10 to 7:30 on Friday and Saturday. Open daily 10 to 5:30. Sixth Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000. Free.

AIR AND SPACE/DULLES Open indefinitely: "Business Aviation." "Commercial Aviation." "Human Spaceflight." "Rockets and Missiles." "Sport Aviation." "Vertical Flight." "World War II Aviation." Open from 10 to 6:30 through Saturday. Open daily 10 to 5:30. Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy., Chantilly. 202-633-1000. Free.

Australia too competitive: THAI

Thai Airways International (THAI) has said it is steering away from the Australian market because competition is too fierce.
The airline said that while they are keen to increase connections to Auckland, dealing with Australia is a “competitive headache”, the Australian reported.
“Australia is not all that profitable for us,” THAI chief executive Piyasyasti Amranand said.
“We have many flights to Australia but I think the problem is the competition...from other airlines.
“This is probably where you really see the impact of Middle Eastern Airlines on our operations.”
Mr Amranand added that its proposed alliance with Tiger Airways could assist the airline improve its operations down under.
If the alliance resolves its current issues with the Thai government, the head said Thai Tiger could be set up as a low-budget carrier within the month.
“Hopefully, it will be in operation sometime in the second quarter of 2011 because (in) the regional market we’re losing out a lot, I think, to the low-cost airlines,” he said.
According to the news source, with only six million on the 65 million people living in Thailand having flown, Thai is also hoping the alliance would attract the untapped market.
"Obviously, the first time they will not be flying Thai Airways, they will be flying low-cost airlines because they need something cheap," Mr Amranand said.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Air Berlin requires Head of Marketing & Sales at its Bangkok base

Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG


Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG is Germany´s second largest airline and the sixth largest in Europe. We serve Thailand for more than 30 years with daily flights to our hubs Berlin, Dusseldorf and Munich. As airberlin is increasing its presence in Thailand we are searching for additional staffs to join our young and highly motivated team in Bangkok.

Head of Marketing & Sales Thailand

Join date: Able to start immediately
Base : Bangkok


  • Thai nationality only
  • Min. 3 years senior sales experience for an airline in Thailand
  • Excellent Thai / English spoken and written
  • German language highly appreciated
  • Very good knowledge of the Thai market
  • Leadership abilities
  • Knowledge of Germany and Europe is an advantage
Interested candidates are invited to write in with full resume, stating present and expected salaries, and enclosing a recent photograph to the address below :

Go Vacation Thailand

Khun Nicha Minkhuntod / HR and Administrative Manager

Human Resources Department

849 Vorawat Building
7th Floor Silom Road
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
Telephone: 0-2267-1202-4 Fax: 0-2267-1128

E-mail :
Website :

Career Level Middle
Yr(s) of Exp 3 years
Qualification (N/A)
Industry Tourism/Travel Agency
Job Function Transportation & Logistics > Airline
Marketing / Public Relations > Management
Sales, CS & Business Devpt > Sales Management
Sales, CS & Business Devpt > Others
Location Bangkok
Silom MRT Station, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10500, Thailand Enlarge Map
Salary Not Specified
Employment Type Full Time, Permanent

Lao Airlines' new aircraft touches down in Vientiane

Phonsavanh Vongsay
Vientiane Times
Publication Date : 27-12-2010

Lao Airlines' fourth ATR72-500 made its debut at Vientiane's Wattay International Airport on Friday (December 24) afternoon, after a two night, three day flight from France where it was manufactured.
The plane arrived at about 4pm, after Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) of France officially presented the aircraft to Lao Airlines in France on Tuesday (December 21), according to a press release from Lao Airlines.
The aircraft was purchased under an agreement between the two parties signed earlier this year. It will be mainly used on international routes and will replace older planes in the fleet.
The ATR72-500 has a total weight capacity of about 22.5 tonnes, including the weight of the aircraft, cargo and up to 70 passengers.
The four planes will facilitate the development of the air transport market and tourism. They have special facilities for VIP guests.
In the past Lao Airlines flew two ATR72-200 that were 1 tonne lighter. “However, these aircraft were recently returned to their place of manufacture in France,” said Lao Airlines' administration and planning department director Noudeng Chanthaphasouk.
The company decided to buy the four aircraft because the government was concerned about the adequacy of domestic air transportation routes.
They will enable Lao Airlines to add new sectors and help boost economic development.
Lao Airlines made the purchase after experiencing increased demand for charter flights from tourists and government officials.
The purchase of the new aircraft is part of a project to improve and expand Lao Airlines and is supported by various organisations.
Lao Airlines is also buying two ARJ21-700 90-seat jet aircraft from the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. The two parties signed a purchase agreement in Vientiane in January this year.
“We will receive the two aircraft by the end of 2012,” Noudeng said.
“They will help Lao Airlines to provide a better service and enable us to expand our services to more countries.”
The new planes will also play an important role in transporting the growing numbers of tourists, especially in 2012 when more arrivals are expected under the ‘Visit Laos Year' campaign.
Lao Airlines now has eight aircraft - four MA60 and four ATR72-500 - which fly on domestic and international sectors.
The airline offers flights between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces.
International destinations include Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
Lao Airlines is the national flag carrier of Laos formerly known as Lao Aviation. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Once upon a time we called them “Flight Stewardesses”, nowadays they are referred to as Flight Attendants

No photo 'Age before beauty'
CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) Updated December 27, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (9) View comments

Once upon a time we called them “Flight Stewardesses”, nowadays they are referred to as Flight Attendants. Once upon a time they were mostly females, nowadays there are as many males as there are females. Once upon a time they were mostly young, pretty and charming, nowadays the “young once” are struggling to keep their jobs and their dignity.
While flying somewhere between Bangkok and Manila on Philippine Airlines, I found myself reflecting on the on-going struggle of PAL management and their flight crews regarding the concept of “early retirement”.
Presumably, the issue is water under the bridge since the Department of Labor has ruled against the early retirement age idea of PAL. Unfortunately, a government ruling does not tell “us” the passengers; what to do with our long established ideas of what “Stewardesses” or Flight Attendants are suppose to look like or how young they are suppose to be.
A government decision does not make us realize that our notion or expectations about age and looks have actually become leaving breathing biases that blinds us from appreciating the real purpose, service and value of a “Flight Attendant”. In fact we never even consider that all of us add to the “customer expectations” and collective bias “that flight attendants should be young”.
Ever since the “dancing FA’s” and the controversy about early retirement age, I have heard more and more people speak out against sexist policies of the airlines. But no one among the politically correct anti-sexist activist would openly admit that privately, they all harbor a bias that turns them off when they see an “old” or non-sexy flight attendant.
While on board PR-730 to Bangkok, I could not help but notice one of three senior FA’s who I assumed was a very senior purser doing a performance audit. True to form, my long established expectation of what a flight attendant was “suppose to look like” automatically kicked in. it was not long before I began to pay special attention and make a biased assessment of the person in terms of age, looks and whether she was fit to perform the duties of an FA.
Half way through my unsolicited critical assessment, I realized that this person was performing a difficult job and I was assessing her based on absolute bias for her age and appearances because the airline industry had brain washed us a long time ago that FA’s were supposed to be “Hotties”.  
As I watched the senior FA, I saw a professional who brought value and quality to the service. She had empathy that broke down barriers, public relations skills that made people appreciate the crew and she still had the core strength that allowed her to perform physically demanding work.
Like other flights, I have always appreciated the service and the warmth of Filipino Flight Attendants. It is their warmth and sincerity that makes our travel a pleasure, not their age. Their able and constant attention puts us at ease, not their vital statistics. It is their caring face that tells us we chose the right airline to fly, and not just another pretty face in shorts to drool at.
There are no diplomas for experience, it requires living through them and that takes time. It comes with age, so does wisdom and good judgment.
 So the next time you’re on a plane and you see a much “older” flight attendant, try to remember, she’s the one who will serve your food, tidy up the toilet, address your needs and in case of an unforeseen landing or medical emergency she might even save your life.
So the next time the bias starts acting up, just remember the “A” in FA stands for “Attendant” not “Age”.
* * *
If the Philippines lag behind in terms of tourist arrivals, it is not because of slogans or airports.
Bangkok has a huge international airport jammed and packed with tourists who immediately complain about the long lines and slow processing at their immigration counters because people get stuck at a choke point between two public areas. So it’s not about the looks, it’s about the service and convenience.
Thailand has a huge airport because it was a necessary requirement when the country made the decision to prioritize tourism as a priority program. The Philippines must first decide if Tourism will be a priority program instead of prioritizing the airports in the hope of attracting tourists.
In terms of destinations our first and usual mistake is making “Manila” or Metro Manila as the port of destination or gateway for tourists. Sorry but what we call tourists spots in Metro Manila are just places of historical or cultural interests mostly for Filipinos. They are not designed or developed to meet the needs or concerns of a FOREIGNER.
In comparison to Bangkok, Metro Manila would have an equal number of “potential” tourist spots. But the difference is that Thailand invested time and money to make the city and the country attractive and convenient for tourists. By attractive we mean accessibility, affordability and safety.
In the Philippines, NAIA 1 remains the same, Fort Santiago looks the same, Intramuros has had been developing but not for purposes of tourism, Divisoria has become worse, and Roxas blvd has gone from static to deteriorated, and as well know Luneta is now linked with hostage taking than tourism. From Marcos to Aquino, our tourist spots have remained physically and visually the same.
In the mean time, our real destinations are left to private sector development and promotion because they are outside Imperial Metro Manila. Once again what we have, is a need to redefine our perspective and priorities. More than our “Smile” we need a product to sell.

IATA: Thailand's 'Green Tax' could hurt travel

The international airline industry is up in arms against Thailand's plan to impose a hefty tax on air travellers, warning it would be counterproductive for a country that relies heavily on tourism.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said a proposed 15% tax on ticket prices would discourage airlines to operate to Thailand and drive away travellers.
"We think it is absolutely counterproductive," said Jeff Poole, who oversees industry charges, fuel and taxation issues at IATA, told the Bangkok Post.
IATA, which represents 230 airlines, will soon formally raise its objection to the Thai government when it completes a paper on impacts to the overall economy from the "green tax."
The Thai cabinet last October agreed in principle to impose the air travel tax as part of a new environmental tax on polluting industries, products and services, starting in 2012.
"[Fifteen percent] is incredible high by any standard. We normally see a few percent in other countries, to which we strongly object, " said Mr Poole.
"Airlines always have a choice as to where they fly, and if it is more expensive to operate in one country or one airport compared to others, airlines will move their services to other locations where they can make a better financial recovery," he said.
From the travellers' perspective, if it costs a lot more to fly to Bangkok than to Kuala Lumpur or somewhere else in Asia, they will make a choice, he added.
IATA believes many other counties impose green taxes mainly for revenue purposes, even if they are doing so in the name of the environment.
Mr Poole cited the adverse effect of a similar tax imposed and later revoked by the Dutch government. "When they introduced the tax people just drove over the border to Germany and flew from other airports."
According to IATA, the Netherlands in 2009 collected 312 million in departure taxes but the impact cost the Dutch economy 1.2 billion.
Some other European countries are using departure taxes mainly to raise badly needed money, it said.
In June, Germany agreed to impose a new departure tax to raise $3.1 billion a year. The new UK air passenger duty is expected to raise 2.5 billion and an Austrian departure tax 90 million. These taxes can be 3-5% of the price of a ticket, IATA said.
"Aviation can help drive economic growth, but not if we are beaten to death with new taxes," IATA director-general Giovanni Bisignani said a media briefing in Geneva on Dec 14.
Next year, IATA will launch a major communication initiative in Europe to educate governments on the social and economic benefits of the aviation industry, he said.
The air transport industry generates 31.9 million jobs globally and aviation's global economic impact was estimated at $3.55 billion in 2007, equivalent to 7.5% of world GDP, according to IATA.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thailand's air force receives Saab aircraft

15:49 GMT, December 17, 2010 At a ceremony in Linköping on December 13 FMV handed over a Saab 340 Erieye AEW and a Saab 340 for transport and training to the Royal Thai Air Force. It is the first elements of the integrated air defense system that Thailand has bought from Sweden.

This is the first delivery from the agreement FMV signed with Thailand in 2008. Per Nilsson, who is responsible for the Thailand project at FMV, signed shipping documents, together with Air Marshal Songtam Chokkanapitag from the RoyalThai Air Force. Gunnar Jonsson, who is project manager for the 340-part of the project,handed over the logbooks.

The agreement of 2008 between FMV, as a representative of the Swedish state, and Thailand, covers six Gripen aircraft (4 Jas 39D and 2 Jas 39C) with associated equipment and services, a Saab 340 aircraft with airborne radar surveillance system, a Saab 340 for transport and education and an integrated Command and Control system with data links.

The agreement contains, in addition, an extensive logistical support, training for Thai pilots and technicians as well as simulators. Sweden will also help as advisors in Thailand during the introduction of the Gripen and the Erieye system in the Thai Air Force.

Total solution. The equipment, together with the commitment to train pilots and technicians as well as bilateral agreements for the development of advanced data link and transfer of technology, form a comprehensive solution. Deliveries of the remaining system components will occur during the first quarter of 2011.

In November 2010 FMV signed a new agreement with Thailand, which covers six Gripen fighters of the latest C version, along with an additional Saab 340 with Erieyeradar and the Swedish missile RB 15F. Delivery of the components of the defense system will take place during 2012 and 2013.

As part of the contract, Sweden will transfer the latest technology in advanced military aircraft to Thailand. The purpose of this is through long-term partnership develop the aerospace and defense skills in Thailand. This will also serve as a base for industry in Thailand in terms of future development.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

EXCLUSIVE – Qantas flight QF32 flight from the cockpit - A380 engine failure

On 4 November Qantas flight QF32, an Airbus A380 outbound from Singapore, ran into serious problems when a turbine on its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine suffered an uncontained failure. We caught up with one of the five pilots onboard, who describes how the crew professionally dealt with the incident, the sequence of events, and how the most dangerous period was after they had landed.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thailand's U-Tapao Airport To Upgrade for International Flights

Pattayas' Utapao International Airport is aiming to draw more regular international flights following its million expansion is completed in 2013.
Work is currently scheduled to begin in 2011 and will feature building a new terminal which will hold 1,500 passengers. The current capability is 400 passengers.
The existing 3,5km runway and apron for 49 aircraft is not planned to be upgraded as they can already accommodate all types of aircraft.
Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) committee member Thongyoo Suphavittayakorn is reported to have said the upgraded airport would attract flights from Pattaya's key markets - Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), India, South Korea and China.
Lao Airlines launched a new twice-weekly service from Vientiane to Utapao in November, while Bangkok Airways already operates domestic flights to Koh Samui to Utapao and Phuket to Utapao services.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The annual Bangkok Air Show and Civil Aviation Exhibition 2010 takes place at Don Muang Airport in Bangkok from 9-11 December 2011

As well as an exhibition on Thai aviation history there will be a chance to see close up 86 aircraft on the tarmac at the airport and also an aerial display. The event takes place at Terminal 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance is free. If it is the same as last time there will be free parking at the airport car park. The exhibition will be in the main terminal and there will be a shuttle bus to take you to the airfield to watch the show and also to take a closer look at the aircraft parked on the tarmac.

9:00-16:00 Exhibition in Terminal 2 and Static Display
9:30 Start opening ceremony
10:00 Opening by Ministry of transportation and visiting the exhibition
13:00-14:00 Air show

9:00-16:00 Exhibition in Terminal 2 and Static Display
10:00-11:00 Air show
13:00-14:00 Air show

9:00-16:00 Exhibition in Terminal 2 and Static display
10:00-11:00 Air show
13:00-14:00 Air show

Photo Album:

Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!
Click image to open!

Scroll down for map:
Full-screenLatitude: 13.905575 (13° 54' 20.07'' N)
Longitude: 100.595541 (100° 35' 43.95'' E)

Thai Transport Minstry Kicks off Aviation Exhibition

UPDATE : 9 December 2010
The Transport Ministry has kicked off the 2010 Civil Aviation Exhibition to promote His Royal Highness the Crown Prince's aviation expertise and mark the 100th anniversary of Thai aviation.

Earlier this morning, Transport Minister Sophon Sarum presided over the opening ceremony of this year's Civil Aviation Exhibition, celebrating a century of aviation in the Kingdom and promoting His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's aviation expertise at Don Muang Airport.

The transport minister said the exhibition was organized under the collaboration between the Civil Aviation Department, the Airports of Thailand, the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand and the Civil Aviation Training Center.

Sophon added that the exhibition will give the public a chance to learn more about aeronautics and aviation.

As for plans to utilize Don Muang Airport, Sophon said related agencies have scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue next week.

Airports of Thailand President Serirat Prasutanond said the exhibition was part of the plan to utilize Don Muang Airport for events.

Attractions include an exhibition on His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn's piloting expertise and the100th anniversary exhibition of Thai Aviation.

There will also be air shows at terminals 1 and 2, as well as the display of the Miss Siam plane, the first ever private aircraft in Thailand, aerobatic performances, and static air shows of more than 86 aircrafts.

Those who attend the exhibition will be able to purchase plane tickets at discount prices starting from today to December 11 from 9 AM to 4 PM at Don Muang Airport.

Thai Aviation | Landing on Koh Samui

How To Visit 4 Continents, 9 Countries, 15 Cities For $US418 In One Year

Steve Kamb decided he wanted to travel the world for as little money as possible. This map is his travel plan: 35,000 miles, visiting four continents, nine countries and 15 cities for just $US418. Here’s how he got it.
“I have to tell you sir, this is easily the most ridiculous itinerary I’ve ever put together,” said the American Airlines operator the other night as I finalised plans for a worldwide adventure that would make Marco Polo blush. “Well, that makes two of us!” I replied.
And just like that, I had committed myself to almost nine months of international travel.
Yes, that picture above is my actual itinerary.
Beginning this January, I’ll start an epic journey that will take me across four continents, through at least nine countries, and into more than 15 cities. I’ll fly on 15 flights covering a total distance of 35,000 miles. To put that in perspective, that’s almost 1.5 times the circumference of the globe. While visiting these locations, I should be able to cross off over a dozen goals from my Epic Quest of Awesome.
Oh, and all of these flights are costing me a grand total of $US418.36.

My itinerary

Although I plan to get to Sydney much sooner should a flight open up (and in turn extend some of my SE Asia stops), here is my rough itinerary for 2011:
• The Rock Boat – Jan 6 – 10
• Los Angeles – Jan 14 – Feb 13
• Sydney, Australia – Feb 15-20
• Auckland, New Zealand – Feb 20 – Mar 20
• Brisbane, Australia – Mar 20 – Apr 9
• Alice Springs, Australia – Apr 9 – 12
• Perth, Australia – Apr 12 – 14
• Singapore, Malaysia – Apr 14 – 16
• Bangkok, Thailand – Apr 16 – May 9
• Hong Kong – May 9 – 12
• Shanghai, China – May 12 – 22
• Tokyo, Japan – May 22 – May 27
• San Francisco – May 26 – Jun 3 (yes I go back in time on the flight home)
• Portland – Jun 3 – 7 (World Domination Summit!)
• Boston/Atlanta – Jun 8 – Jul 30
• Chicago – Jul 30 – Aug 4
• Dublin, Ireland – Aug 5 – Sep 2
• Madrid, Spain – Sep 2 – Oct 10
• Buenos Aires, Argentina? – Oct 15 – Nov 30 (not booked yet, but I still have enough miles to make it happen)
Unreal, right? If I were to pay for this adventure with cash and book individual flights, it would cost almost $US6000 (using the cheapest option for each leg on The best part is, the dates of this adventure aren’t set in stone – as long as I don’t change WHERE I’m going, I can change the date and time of each stop without penalty.
Here’s how I got this incredibly flexible itinerary for only $US418.

The beauty of travel hacking

After buying travel guru Chris Guillebeau’s Frequent Flyer Master ebook last year, I became addicted to travel hacking, acquiring TONS of frequent flyer miles for various airlines through an assortment of lucrative credit card deals. I have excellent credit, generally get the first year fee waived, use the card for EVERYTHING, pay off each card in full, and receive a certain number of miles for spending enough money to receive the bonus.
In the past 11 months alone, I’ve earned without flying:
• 130,000 American Airline miles
• 105,000 British Airways Miles
• 40,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points
• 25,000 American Express points
I use these points to book insane trips around the world… like this one! To answer your first question, I didn’t buy ANYTHING outside of what I would normally purchase to get these bonuses – I’ve lived extremely frugally over the past year. For example, to earn 100,000 British Airways points, I had to spend $US2000 in six months – after prepaying my car insurance for the year, and putting all of my other payments (petrol, food, pay TV, gym, etc) on the card for a few months I hit the bonus with ease.
For me to complete this particular trip, I had to use a combination of American Airline miles and Starwood Preferred Guest points. I had already used 32,000 AA points for my trip to Peru last month, so I simply transferred 40,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points into my AA account (complete with a 10,000 point transfer bonus), which gave me the 140,000 points needed to book my trip.
If you’re interested in learning more about frequent flyer credit card programs and last-minute deals, head over to Frugal Travel Guy and check out the different cards listed in the right hand column. Rick runs THE best frequent flyer website out there, so start checking it daily if you’re looking to take some fun trips for dirt cheap – his site is one of the sites I make sure to visit every morning.

Keeping an eye on special offers

The best deal right now is American Airlines Citi cards: first year fee waived, spend $US4000 within six months for 75,000 points.
This used to be only $US1500 as early as a month ago, but it recently changed. Sign up for one (or two… or three) of those cards, hit the spending limit (by putting EVERYTHING YOU BUY on the card and paying it off in full), and you’ve just earned 75,000 points without ever stepping foot on an aeroplane. If you’re a frugal spender, try doing things like pre-paying your car insurance, buying gift cards, or do a little research and to find out about some of the other methods for hitting spending limits. My friend Tyler got mighty creative…
You just have to keep an eye out for special deals (which is where Frugal Travel Guy comes in handy). Worried about your credit score? If you carry no credit card debt, pay off your cards in full, and then negotiate for fee-free cards after your first year your score will not be affected negatively. If you decide to cancel the cards after a year, depending on your credit history it can take a hit of a few points before rebounding. Do the research; it’s not as terrifying as you’d imagine!

How to Use a OneWorld Award

As of three weeks ago, my plan was to book a one-way flight to Sydney and figure the rest out after that. However, after reading posts from Sean Ogle and Cody McKibben about Thailand, I knew I had to swing through Southeast Asia to check it out. I calculated that using points to go from Los Angeles to Sydney to New Zealand to Thailand back to Los Angeles would cost me around 110,000 points.
After looking at these beaches in Thailand, I knew I had to go:

So it was settled – I was going to Thailand.
I then discovered OneWorld Awards and my plans for 2011 exploded.
OneWorld Awards are flights that are based on how many TOTAL miles you fly instead of dealing with individual flights. They also allow you to fly on most of American Airlines’ worldwide partners, and you can make a total of 16 STOPS.
According to their award chart, for only 120,000 points (10,000 more points than I would have used the other way) I could fly up to a total of 25,000 miles and make 16 stops anywhere along the way. However, for only an additional 20,000 points, I could fly up to 35,000 total miles instead…
Which got the gears turning in my head.
Because I had 140,000 AA points at my disposal, I decided to tack on a visit to both Dublin and Spain for next fall! Obviously it was a big decision to add a Europe portion to my trip, but it only cost me an additional 20,000 points, round-trip. Considering a round-trip flight to anywhere in the states is 25,000 points… I’d say it’s a pretty good deal!

The funky rules of travel hacking

Now, there were some funky rules that I had to work around for my itinerary:
• I can’t stopover in the same city twice, which is why I’m flying out of LA, then back in through San Francisco. It’s also why I’m flying out of Chicago and back in through Boston when going to Europe.
• I can only have one open gap on the trip, which counts as one of my 16 ‘stops’ but doesn’t factor into the mileage calculation – my open segment is a gap between San Francisco and Chicago. I’m responsible for getting myself from San Fran to Chicago next summer.
• I can’t change what airlines I fly and where I stop, but I can change the dates and times of ANY of the flights free of charge (as long as there is availability).
• I have to complete the whole trip within 12 months.
I have to give a HUGE shout out to the incredible community over at Flyer for helping me put together this trip and answering my questions. That is the place to be if you have any sort of interest in frequent flyer programs, travel hacking and such. It can be quite intimidating due to the sheer amount of information on there, but once you get your feet wet it’s easy to navigate and you can pretty much find an answer to ANYTHING.

How to build your award travel flight

If you’re interested in seeing how many miles your dream flight would be, check out Great Circle Mapper. Simply plug in your airport codes and it will tell you how long your flight is! Here is my crazy itinerary. I’m not kidding when I say that I spent probably more than 24 total hours in the past three weeks having a blast on this thing creating itineraries, checking mileage, and figuring out where the heck I could go without going over the limit.

Here’s another invaluable tool: OneWorld “Who Flies Where?”. This is where you can find out which OneWorld alliance airlines fly where, so you can put together a legitimate itinerary.
A few other tips:
• Try to book your trip either WAY in advance (flights open up generally 330 days in advance), or last minute like I did. If you NEED to go on specific days, book it as far in advance as possible, as each plane only has so many “award seats” available. When booking last minute, you might need to be flexible with your dates as often the most popular legs have already been filled.
• If you sign up for a Qantas FF number (you don’t need miles or to fly them), you can search their database to see which flights have available award seats. You can also do the same for British Airways for flights that don’t show up on Qantas (and vice versa). Between those two I was able to line up all of my flights before calling American Airlines to book them.
• When booking, it’s a crap shoot how helpful your phone operator will be. I had to call back three times to get an agent that could help me re-calculate a segment of the trip that AA’s computer had screwed up. It’s not the agents’ fault, some just happen to be more knowledgeable with this type of flight than others. If the one you have doesn’t help, simply hang up and call back!
• Flights change. New award seats open up last minute, and these types of itineraries are free to change as long as you don’t change the airline or destination. I plan on getting to Australia much sooner than February 13th when a flight opens up while I’m in Los Angeles.
Now, if you have your points in other airlines like Delta or United, they are part of their one worldwide alliances who ALSO offer flights like these…visit their websites, look up their alliances, and start planning.

How I am able to afford six months of adventure travel

Next week, I will be moving out of my apartment in Atlanta, and I have no plans to actually RENT a place in the United States until at least 2012. I will also be selling my car, and I don’t expect to own a car until 2012 either. Once I’m not paying rent, car insurance, car payments or fuel… my financial ties will be minimal (just some student loans and health insurance). When I don’t have my money promised elsewhere, I can use the rest of my money to live VERY CHEAPLY overseas (hostels, couch surfing, etc).
I am certainly not rich, but I’m incredibly fortunate to be 100 per cent in control of my time and location because I am my own boss. I can operate Nerd Fitness from anywhere with an internet connection, so I’ll be working the entire time while travelling, connecting with readers, writing about my adventures, creating more awesome workout videos, and inspiring others to also do stuff that scares the crap out of them.
The Rebel Fitness Guide is still selling well, t-shirts are flying off the digital shelves, and I’m hard at work on my second ebook as well.
Because I’m travelling so cheaply, I’ll be able to use the majority of my money to cross off some of the more expensive things on my Epic Quest list. These are the things I hope to accomplish in 2011:
• Skydive in New Zealand
• Scuba-dive the Great Barrier Reef
• Something Lord of the Rings-related in New Zealand
• Visit Ayers Rock in Australia
• Exercise on the Skybridge of Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
• Visit Angkor Wat in Cambodia
• Visit the Great Wall of China
• Find the Ninja Warrior Course in Japan
• Kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland
• Party on the island of Ibiza in Spain
• Wear a Tuxedo and gamble in Monte Carlo
• Climb the Eiffel Tower in Paris

Why this trip scares me

Eight months ago, I was sitting at a desk job dreaming about going to Australia “some day”. Last night, I booked a trip that will not only take me halfway around the world, but it will keep me on the road for pretty much nine months. This scares the crap out of me.
Here’s why:
• I speak English and Spanish, but I certainly don’t speak any of the languages used in Southeast Asia, China, or Japan. I envision lots of things getting lost in translation. Looks like it’s time to start reading everything Benny The Irish Polyglot’s ever written.
• I’ll be travelling alone. So much for strength in numbers!
• I’m a picky eater. Who KNOWS what kinds of situations I’m putting myself into!
• I have a feeling I will get mighty homesick, as I’ve never been out of the country for more than three weeks… which was my trip to Peru a month ago.
• I’m worried that something bad will happen that I can’t get out of. Not that I plan on doing anything illegal (I don’t use drugs and didn’t even start drinking until three months after my 21st birthday), but I REALLY don’t want to end up in a Cambodian jail strung up by my toes.
Now, fortunately the same reasons that I scare me also excite me. I don’t speak the languages in Asia, so I’ll have to start learning them. I also have to become resourceful, rely on my instincts, learn to navigate foreign environments, operate outside my comfort zone, expand my horizons when it comes to food, learn to deal with homesickness, and talk my way out of various situations. I have this vision in my head of me becoming a real life Jason Bourne (hopefully without the assassination stuff), and this is a fantastic way to find out what I’m made of.
I understand that not everybody can just pack up and leave for nine months, so I know this is the opportunity of a lifetime. I figure I might as well do this now when I’m 26, no wife, kids or mortgage, because who knows what will happen a year from now. I plan on packing Nerd Fitness full of awesome stories, both good and bad, about the whole adventure. I’m looking forward to working on the road, exercising in unique locations, meeting amazing people, and going on some pretty epic adventures.
If you happen to live in one of these cities, or know a good friend that lives in one of these countries, shoot me an email and maybe we can meet up!
Steve Kamb is the nerd-in-chief of, a site dedicated to helping nerds, desk-jockeys, and averages Joes level up their lives. You can sign up for the Nerd Fitness Newsletter here and follow him on Twitter.

Singapore Air A380 Delivery Delayed Over Koito Seats

Wireless network camera sets altitude world record

An off-the-shelf camera from Axis Communications has set the world record for the highest wireless network camera delivering high quality images to Earth. The PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) dome network camera was sent into the atmosphere to a height of 35 km (21. 7 miles) from the Esrange Space Center, north of Sweden, as part of the BEXUS 11 program. Read More

SpaceX makes history with successful Dragon capsule mission

SpaceX, an American space transport company founded by Elon Musk (think PayPal and Tesla Motors), has become the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit. The craft, a fully functioning uncrewed Dragon capsule was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on December 8 and parachuted back to Earth around three hours later following maneuvers in orbit. Read More

WikiLeaks cables suggest Burma is building secret nuclear sites

Iran Placing Medium-Range Missiles in Venezuela; Can Reach the U.S.

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci
December 8, 2010 at 5:00 am
Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on western information sources[1], according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, of November 25, 2010. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit o Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on October19, 2010. The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles.
At a moment when NATO members found an agreement, in the recent Lisbon summit (19-20 November 2010), to develop a Missile Defence capability to protect NATO’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks from the East (namely, Iran), Iran’s counter-move consists in establishing a strategic base in the South American continent – in the United States’s soft underbelly.