Tuesday, 25 August 2015


I have been somewhat of a holiday hipster for the last couple of years, avoiding the "tourist traps" of the Mediterranean, sticking to city breaks, fitting in as much as possible in the one trip. It's a rewarding experience to take in new cultures, visit museums etc. However, this summer, we decided to pack that in. A few months ago we called into Abbey Travel in Killarney and booked ourselves a package holiday to Kusadasi in Turkey. For the first time in forever, we left the entire thing in the hands of someone else, they booked our flights from Cork to Izmir, bus transfers, and a week at the Golden Day Wings hotel. We were met by a guide at the airport who saw us right to the reception desk.

It was brilliant, completely stress-free and relaxed. We made a conscious decision to spend our holiday actually relaxing for a change, usually we'll go to museums, historical sites etc, but not this time. We spent our days by the hotel pool, strolled through the town in the evenings and caught up on our sleep. We took a cruise around the Aegean sea, stopping off in some gorgeous beaches and jumping off the boat.

It's such a wonderful feeling to wake up in the morning and feel the heat on your skin (something we just don't get in Ireland). It's invigorating, relieving almost. I feel as if my skin got to breathe for a change. 

Kusadasi is a charming town, full of life, loads of places to eat out, shop and chill out with a drink. A word of warning though, it seems as if everyone is out to sell you something. Lots of restaurants have "grabbers" in the street who will do their utmost to convince you to dine with them, usually starting off with "where are you from?" and proceed to tell you how their place is great for your nationality, they use this same line in the markets on Wednesdays. Some places have started to take advantage of their pushy competitors by highlighting the fact that they won't hassle you, these are the places we tended to go to.

Of course, no trip to Kusadasi would be complete without a trip to the waterpark. We spent our penultimate day in Aqua Fantasy park being the big children we really are. There are so many things to see around there, the town  of Selcuk was a bus ride away, where they have to house of the Virgin Mary. Ephesus, the ancient roman city was also nearby as well as pamukkale. I would definitely recommend a visit, it is well worth it.

Thanks to Abbey Travel and Sunway.ie 

Friday, 14 August 2015

Stupid things Travel Agents hear

from http://notalwaysright.com/tag/travel-agency/page/2
I work in a travel agency and we handle a lot of rental car bookings. Note: if you book a car early, and want to change something about the booking, the rate for the car will change. This exchange takes place with a customer who has booked a car about three months prior:)
Customer: “I’d like to change my booking to pick the car up a day earlier.”
Me: “I’d be happy to take care of that.” *pulls up new booking info* “Your new rate is going to be  [several hundred dollars more].”
Customer: “For that much, I could just go buy a car. The new rate is supposed to only be $30 dollars more for an extra day.”
Me: “That’s not how it works. You booked this three months ago and that rate isn’t available anymore. That extra day rate is if you return it a day later, not if you pick it up a day earlier.”
Customer: “Can’t you just go back to then and re-book it for me?”
Me: “You want me to travel back to March and book this for you again?”
Me: “I can’t travel through time to re-book this for you. I’m sorry. If you want to change it—”
Customer: “—well never mind. I’ll just take care of it myself.” *storms out of the office*

I have a long-time repeat client, old but quite nice. As I am finishing up going through the paperwork and vouchers for his identical biannual holiday with his wife, I inform him I won’t be able to assist with his next trip as I’d be on maternity leave but I’ll pass his file over to my manager and she’ll be quite happy to assist.)
Client: *blank look* “But you’re not… married.”
Me: “Well… no…?”
Client: “How can you be going on maternity leave, then?”
Me: “Because I’m having a baby?”
Client: But you’re not MARRIED?!”
Me: “Uh, I know, but I appear to be pregnant and as I am having a child I need maternity leave…”
Client: “BUT. YOU’RE. NOT. MARRIED. How can you be PREGNANT?”
(Every week for the next seven months he came into my office, sat in front of me, and implored me to go and get married, to anyone – maybe that man over there? – because I needed to be married to have a child. Well, I have a child and I’m still not married. Occasionally he goes back into my old store and asks if I’m married yet.)

(It is the late 1990s. A couple walk in. She is obviously Jewish, he not-so-much. As it turns out, he is a Lebanese Druze.)
Female Customer: “We’d like airline tickets flying into Tel Aviv and back from Beirut.”
Me: “Okay, let’s see what we can find.” *types into the computer* “Meanwhile, how will you get from Tel Aviv to Beirut?”
Female Customer: “Oh, we plan to rent a car and drive.”
Me: “I don’t think we’ll be able to find a rental car for that.”
Male Customer: “Why not?”
Me: “Well, right now the Israeli-Lebanese border is a war zone.”

I always like to follow up after a trip I have booked for a customer. A couple had booked a plane flight to Florida, a small rental car, and a few nights hotel on the beach.)
Me: “Hi, Mrs. [Name]. This is [My Name] calling from [Travel Agency]. I just wanted to make sure you had a wonderful time on your trip.”
Wife: “You’ll have to speak with my husband. I’m too upset to speak with you.”
Husband: “I can’t believe you have the courage to call, after what you did. I’ve dealt with incompetence before, but you are the worst!”
Me: “I’m so sorry. What happened?”
Husband: “When I booked the flight, I told you that I wanted an aisle seat, and my wife preferred a window seat. You had us backwards on all four flights!”
Me: “I’m so sorry. Why didn’t you just swap seats? Or, say something to a flight attendant, who would have told you to just swap seats?”
Husband: “…” *click*

We have a screen with special offers on the wall. Customer #1 is reading the board as offers flash by.)
Customer #1: “Wait, Paris is in Europe?”
Customer #2: “Really? Where did you think it was? Asia?”
Customer #1: “I never really paid much attention in Geometry class.”
(Customer #2 starts laughing as Customer #1 realizes what she just said.)
Customer #1: “Yeah… didn’t pay much attention at all.”

Customer: “Hello, I’m calling to make sure that my flight back to Israel departs as scheduled, and that my request for a kosher meal has been approved.”
Me: “Sir, your ticket has already expired. Your flight was on May 15th.”
Customer: “What?!? That’s not possible! I am absolutely sure that my flight is on May 29th!”
Me: “Sir, have you perhaps changed your ticket’s return date?”
Customer: “No way! I would remember that! I’m not senile. My flight is on May 29th and I did not change my ticket!”
Me: “The computer says your flight was on May 15th. Could you look at the printout of your ticket and tell me what date appears there?”
Customer: “Oh, my God…”
Me: “Sir?”

Customer: “I forgot! I completely forgot! I am calling you from Netanya! I already amback in Israel!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Airbus Supersonic Jet Patent

From TheJournal.ie
LAST MONTH, THE US Patent and Trademark Office approved an application from Airbus for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle and related method of aerial locomotion”.
In other words, the aerospace manufacturer just patented a hypersonic jet.
Airbus expects the jet to reach speeds as high as Mach 4.5 — or 4 1/2 times the speed of sound.
According to PatentYogi’s Deepak Gupta, this means the Airbus jet could make the trip from Dublin to New York in under an hour.
screen_shot_2015-07-28_at_11_01_56_amSource: Screenshot via YouTube/PatentYogi
That’s a significant improvement over the 3 1/2 hours it took for the now retired Mach 2 Concorde to make the same trip. The Concorde was a joint venture between Airbus’ two predecessors, France’s Aerospatiale and British Aerospace.
The hypersonic jet would also demolish the seven to eight hours it takes a conventional airliner, such as Airbus’ own A330, to cross the Atlantic.
In addition, Airbus thinks the patented craft would be able to complete trips like Paris to San Francisco or Tokyo to Los Angeles in just three hours.
In the patent, Airbus describes the craft as “an air vehicle including a fuselage, a gothic delta wing distributed on either side of the fuselage, and a system of motors able to propel the air vehicle”.
The jet is powered by three different types of engines that work in sequential order to get the craft aloft, into cruising altitude, and then up to its cruising speed of more than 4,800 kph:
  • To get off the ground, the craft will use two turbojets mounted under the fuselage as well as a rocket motor mounted in the rear.
  • As the Airbus lifts off the runway, it will climb vertically like the Space Shuttle.
  • Right before the jet reaches the speed of sound, the turbojets shut down and retract into the belly of plane — leaving only the rocket motor to guide it up to an altitude of more than 100,000 feet.
  • At cruising altitude, the rocket motor will shut down and retract into the fuselage. Then the plane’s pair of wing-mounted ramjets take over and propel the aircraft to a top speed of Mach 4.5.
Airbus suggests it will be powered by various forms of hydrogen stored aboard the craft.
According to Airbus, much of the plane’s aerodynamics are designed to limit and reduce the sonic boom it will create when it reaches supersonic speed.
In the 1970s, the Concorde was beset by complaints of sonic booms and noise pollution created by its four Rolls-Royce Olympus turbojet engines.
Concorde test flightSource: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
Consequently, it was prevented from operating over land.
As a result, the supersonic Anglo-French airliner was never able to become the financially viable mainstream passenger transport its creators had hoped for.
Instead, the 14 production Concordes spent their 27-year career shuttling well-heeled VIPs across the Atlantic.
Airbus believes the hypersonic jet could have both civilian and military applications. In civilian trim, the craft could serve as private jet or as an airliner with room for 20 passengers.
In addition, Airbus has also proposed a variant armed with high-power electromagnetic pulse weapons to conduct precision strikes on high-value targets.
As with most patented ideas, it’s unlikely the jet will ever enter production. But technology derived from the hypersonic plane could make its way into Airbus’ other less extreme products.
For more information on the Airbus jet, check out the full patent at the USPTO database or this video from PatentYogi.