How do you make sure a whirlwind trip round the world in just a week doesn’t wear you out and affect your productivity? Things went surprisingly well for me last week, as I flew from Washington to Munich to Paris to Bangkok to Islamabad, back to Bangkok, on to Seoul and back to Washington, so I thought I’d share the experience.
The first thing I have to say is that I don’t drink coffee or take sleeping pills. My only medicine when it comes to air travel is securing the best comfort and luxury I can — I need my flat beds, gourmet meals, lounges with showers, and sometimes even chauffeur-driven cars to connecting flights. I certainly can’t pay for them, but we’ll come to that momentarily…
U.S. carriers have made major progress in listening to direct customer feedback in recent years, while foreign airlines have been less aggressive in pursuing new creative approaches. Finnair, however, is trying to change that. It’s looking for “quality hunters” — fliers who will spend two months on flights around the world and report their findings.
Product-testing and sampling is certainly not a new concept, but the scale on which Finland’s largest carrier plans to implement the program is rare — as is the public way it has chosen to recruit the four travelers it needs. Finnair, which is a member of the Oneworld alliance, calls them “independent advisers, whose task is to travel to various destinations in Europe, Asia and the U.S. to investigate the elements that determine quality in travel”…
Trying to figure out how airlines determine fares is utterly futile, but that doesn’t necessarily dampen my curiosity. On a recent visit to the Star Alliance headquarters in Frankfurt, I sought insights into how the global group sets its popular round-the-world fares.
I always enjoy dropping by the alliance’s modest office — not only because it’s an easy walk from the airport terminal, but also because just about everything it does is unique and pioneering in the industry. With 27 member-carriers, one would think it’s a grand operation, so I was surprised that fewer than 80 people work there…
Have you ever taken a trip around the world or does that prospect sound too extravagant amid a global recession?
Despite a significant price increase that took effect Sunday, if you need or want to travel to several international destinations at a price much lower than regular published fares, a round-the-world ticket is the way to go. Thanks to global airline alliances, booking such tickets has become relatively easy in the last few years. The close partnership among alliance members also makes flight connections, baggage handling and earning frequent-flier miles more convenient for passengers…
- Nicholas Kralev is an author and expert on diplomacy, world affairs and global travel. He hosts the weekly program "Conversations with Nicholas Kralev." A former Financial Times and Washington Times correspondent, he has traveled around the world with four U.S. secretaries of state — Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright. He has flown over 2 million miles and visited 84 countries.
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