Daxing International Is Out Of The Gate

Navigating through airports should not be a daunting task.  Daxing International, the newest airport in Beijing, is making sure travelers traversing from one end of the terminal to the next, finds doing so as easy as ABC.  The newly built star fish shaped mega terminal is purported to be 700,000 square meters (the size of 98 soccer fields put together, or half the size of Hong Kong).  It rivals its Asian cousin Changi International Airport in Singapore for the prolific points of interest and probably bests it in the category of technology.

Daxing International Airport is currently the world’s largest airport and is expected to handle 70 million passengers annually by 2025 and over 100 million by 2040.  The impressive terminal was opened this week by China’s President Xi Jinping, with many dignitaries, engineers, airport planners, et al to witness the auspicious event.  The original purpose for this second airport in Beijing was to scale back the use of the main airport and ease some of the travel burden experienced at Beijing Capital International.  However, since rolling out the project and the new structure took shape, planners have finally decided that both airports in Beijing will operate concurrently.

To make the travel experience less foreboding, technology has been one of the features that cause this airport to stand out.  From the minute a passenger enters through the doors, they will be on camera.  The facial recognition technology will be operating to process the passenger through the necessary securities and gates in record time.

Beijing Capital and Daxing currently trail Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International in America as the second busiest airport in the world.  Certainly, Daxing International is out of the gate vying for bragging rights and looking to topple the US airport from its perch as the busiest in the not too distant future.  This recent opening is added to the repertoire of structures throughout China that may be considered worth visiting.  I have said this before and will say it again, itinerary planners like myself must include an airport discovery plan as part of the to-dos for clients once directing through such terminals.

Community Peeps, I don’t have a bucket list but if I did, touring Daxing would certainly be on it.  More and more, we are seeing engineering feats that boggle the mind as first world countries build mega structures worth viewing.  The amusing thought to me is, while the plan is to get passengers through terminals as quickly as possible, by way of the sundry attractions (this may be intentional too), they make it more difficult to leave.  In my humble opinion as an occasional tourist and itinerary planner, no longer is travel through these mega airports an in an out process.   What is your opinion on this issue?  Share your thoughts with me in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner


Grounded For Insensitivity

The flight experience for a seasoned or first time traveler can be nerve racking depending on the circumstances.  What causes most of the fear and trepidation is the dislike of air turbulence and unexpected engine troubles, but there is another anomaly that may impact a passenger’s experience negatively, and that’s the insensitive handling of passengers by flight personnel.

Since 9/11 the travel experience has taken on a new dimension in terms of acceptable or questionable behaviors on board an aircraft.  The slightest disturbance puts everyone on edge and the flight which could have been a relaxing one becomes charged and full of tension.  For the most part, flight crews are trained to deal with disruptive situations sensitively, quickly and effectively.  However, that is not always the case.  Recently a family experienced improper handling while boarding an aircraft.  Read of their ordeal here.  After the incident, the entire crew was grounded.

I have traveled extensively, and this report brought back to my memory two incidences pre 9/11 that I had forgotten.  The first one was on a trip from New York to Florida.  I was traveling with a group of friends to the port where we would board the cruise ship.  On that flight, a young man became agitated.  He started rambling, crying inconsolably and would get out of his seat even when the “fasten seat belt” sign was on.  The stewardesses tried their best from time to time to calm him down.  They were sympathetic to his plight, but firm in their handling of the situation.  He was en route to see his mother but had been informed that she had died.  The distraught man was treated by the stewardesses with compassion and not as if he was a threat to other passengers.  In today’s climate, he would probably be met at the gate by law enforcement officers and escorted from the plane for his irrational behavior on board the aircraft.

The other incident I recall took place at the Charles de Gaulle International Airport.  I was in transit.   Almost immediately after boarding, some men marched down one of the aisles to the back of the plane.  Loud shouting, tumbling and rumbling ensued.  Attempts to stand and look around where quickly squashed by a few of the men standing in the aisle.  We were told to remain seated, and to keep facing forward.  Sounds of scuffling, shouting and pain inflicted cries were heard throughout the cabin, as the flight crew looked on.  The only word I could understand was “Allah.”   Obviously, the male passenger who was being roughly handled had run afoul of the law.  The interrogation lasted for a little while causing the plane to sit at the gate.  Finally, the lead stewardess approached the undercover agents and insisted that either the passenger be taken off the plane or that the aircraft be allowed to leave.   We were already behind schedule.   The passenger was unceremoniously removed by the officers and the pilot taxied from the gate.

Community Peeps, as I said earlier, both incidences occurred prior to 9/11.  If they had to happen in this day and age, I am sure the outcome would be totally different from what they were back then.  Suspected infringements by other travelers and/or insensitive handling by the flight staff can help to exacerbate any nervousness and tension passengers may already be feeling.  Have you experienced insensitive handling by a crew member at any time while traveling?   Share in the comment box below.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comment in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Attraction Or Distraction?

Changi International Airport in Singapore is not making it easy for other airports around the world to compete with them for the enviable number one position. Voted the leading airport for seven years running, it is by far the most prestigious and exciting airport to visit.  Last month they raised the bar again with the opening of a new wing called “Jewel.” This recent introduction of their latest attraction will more than likely help them cop the top spot for a few more years to come.  Is this latest stimulus an attraction or distraction?  Let us consider.

The making of Jewell cost the Singaporeans a whopping $1.3 billion.  Shaped like a donut, the lifestyle hub is located close to terminal one.  It took more than four years to build and holds amazing gardens, trails, a rain forest, mall, luxury stores, a multi-screen Imax theater, supermarket, hotel, restaurants and a rain vortex.  This tunnel-like waterfall feature is smack-dab in the middle of the dome.  All these offerings are available 24-7.  Sounds like a lot to cover on foot in a short time?  No worries.  You can catch the skytram that weaves its way throughout the new indoor wonder.

It has only been two years since I visited Singapore and experienced the attractions of Changi and already my visit is dated.  Back then I found the airport huge to cover, and makes a layover of eight hours look like child’s play if you want to enjoy its attractions.  It also makes me wonder as an itinerary planner, if this will be the new trend in upgrades as other airports vie to be the best in class and category.  Will airport planners encourage more futuristic designs and exhibitions with the intention to attract more and more tourist?  Should I recommend airport attractions as a consideration for visitors to do when traveling?  Should this new phenomenon be cast as an adventure of its own or only for those who have long layovers?  Should vacationers be encouraged to take time from their holiday to explore the airport if it has interesting attractions?  Would the possibility of exploring cause the not too careful traveler to inadvertently miss their departing flight?  These questions are just a few of the many questions I have.

The Singapore government designed the new facility not only for globe trotters, but for the residents too, and expects approximately 50 – 60 million people to visit the site this year.  There is a likelihood then that the volume of expected pedestrians may slow viewing or cause long lines to board the tram; however, vacationers may access kiosks available throughout the dome for easy and early check-in.  If you are anything like me, you would want to see it all, and may be tempted to walk every inch of the dome which sits on 1.46 million square feet, is 10 stories tall – five stories below ground and five above.  The spanking new allurement is not finished.  A recreational facility that includes a fascinating glass bottom bridge, canopy park, topiaries, slides, a maze and more will open in June.  All these fun and exciting activities, not to mention the jacuzzi and pool on the roof top are things the delayed visitor can do to pass the time.

Community Peeps, I have never thought to encourage or recommend spending a day at the airport.  It has always been the feeling that most travelers want to get in and out of the airport as fast as they can.  However, times are changing, and it seems like airports are swiftly becoming places of adventure and activity.  What is your take on this new development?  Do you like the prospect that you can enjoy much more than just merely sitting at the gate, browsing a store or eating at a fast food restaurant?  Share your thoughts with the rest of us in the comment box below.  If you have any plans to visit or pass through Singapore, will you opt for a longer layover?  This is all interesting to know and I would love to hear from you on the matter.  Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on whether you think it is an attraction or distraction.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner


Airport Tchotchkes

Airports are amazing places to enter.  It is as if you step into a little city bustling with people scurrying in every direction or just leisurely strolling from store to store. A diversified selection of store types line the halls from end to end, intermittently punctuated by seating areas and departure gates. Browsing the shops is an activity for people engage in to pass the time during unexpected delays, and for those who either arrive with ample time to spare before departure, in between flights, or on long layovers.  Passengers are seen browsing brand-named stores, souvenir shops, gift shops, magazine/book stores and, if so inclined, may even receive services like shoe-shines, massages, spa treatments, etc.  It is also the place where diners may enjoy cuisines of their choice at the many restaurants and familiar fast-food eateries nearby.

I love to wander in and out the stores too, admiring the goods, but with no real intention to purchase anything.  Hardly would my travel budget allow for the extravagance of airport spending.  Some stores carry high-end products with a price tag the cost of a round-trip ticket to a different destination 😀.  Seriously, the costs of the items even with the duty-free conditions still can be outrageously pricey, and then there’s the tchotchkes.

The displays are succinctly arranged to catch the eye of the late shopper, and travelers who wander up and down the hallways.  The offerings at the wide range of stores appeal to shoppers for various reasons. Some may be last-minute decisions, or the “I had no time to shop” reason.  So then, whom do you think would be more likely to shop at the airport? I pose the well-to-do, the business traveler, or the wanna-be big spender who buys irrespective of price tag.

Honestly, I don’t think the majority of those who make purchases at the airport go there with the intention to do so.  Granted, duty free discounts on items may sweeten the deal, which the retailer hopes will help to draw prospective consumers in.  The price markup of most goods is usually two to three times higher than those in regular stores.  The reasons for the high prices may be debatable, but one can only guess a factor may be because of the prime real estate.  Whatever the reasons, I am often amazed at the offerings, and the brisk sales that occur in the stores.

Though I am not a big spender, don’t have deep pockets, or a last minute shopper, (I purchase my souvenirs/gifts before coming to the airport) I do confess to airport spending a few times.  Not because I saw an irresistible item and couldn’t live without it, but mostly to get rid of spare change, especially if most of the leftover currency is coin and maybe a few bills.  The balance of cash usually affords nothing more than a few ‘sweet’ treats from the confectioner’s aisles.

Community Peeps, are you an impulsive airport shopper? Is purchasing airport tchotchkes before boarding your flight a favorite pastime?  Share your experiences on airport shopping in the comment box below. If you’ve bought something on vacation you simply could not resist, but which you regret now, talk of it too in the comment section.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

First Stop – Bogota

Recent travels to South America has whet my appetite for more experiences of the same.  My statement sounds as though I am not accustomed to travelling. On the contrary, all I am saying is this trip was phenomenal and I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface of things to do, places to go or people to see.  Ecuador and Peru were the focus of my trip but I managed to see a little bit of Colombia too, with Bogotá being the first stop on the many legs of the travel itinerary.  There is so much to tell I will have to give you the highlights with photos in three or four posting segments.

On this vacation I had a travel companion (my elder sister).  The night before we left we hardly slept so we could be up in time for our flight which was in the wee hours of the morning. On December 4th, we begin an amazing journey that neither of us will ever forget any time soon.

The first stop on our trip was at the El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá, Colombia.  Since we had to spend quite a few hours before our connection to Quito, Ecuador, I had the bright idea to scout out the area instead of sitting around the airport.  We asked the information booth representative for suggestions of nearby places of interests where we could go with consideration to our limited time in Colombia, and the directions to get there.  Armed with all the information that we needed, we boarded the local bus from the airport and headed to Plaza de Bolivar, a square of historical worth.

En route to and from Plaza de Bolívar my sister was nervous.  She was uncomfortable not knowing where we were going, how long it would take for us to get there and back given the traffic conditions at the time, and not being able to communicate.  She did not understand a lick of Spanish.  Yo creo que mi español es muy malo también (I think my Spanish is very bad also) and since I didn’t have any recent practice, it was with good reason that she was not liking our first deviation from our planned itinerary.

You should have seen the look on her face when I wanted to go further away.  Big sister was not having it when I tried to convince her to relax and that we would make it back in time for our connecting flight.  She was so afraid that she did not realize the buses had their designated lanes and were not hindered by the jammed traffic in the neighboring lanes.  When I pointed this out to her, it brought her some relief, but she was still adamant that we should stick to the plan.  Obviously, disagreeing so soon after our eager start to our vacation together was not a good way to begin for our travels I thought, so I listened to the voice of reason (hers), urging me to return to the airport with enough time to spare.  The ride would take approximately 90 minutes round-trip.

Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I like to live dangerously, or flirt with missing my flight (more to come on that in the next post), but when I travel I always want to know what lies beyond the bend, around the corner, further down the road.  You get what I mean.  The adage says, “curiosity killed the cat,” well not this time, thanks to my sis we made it to a little square outside of Aguros Bus Station and back.

Here are our first pictures of Bogotá, Colombia.

Bogotá is known for its street art

On the bus but not in the traffic jam

At the airport

Colombia_Aguros Station Square

Statute at Aguros Station Plaza

We made it to a square outside of the Aguros bus station.  I don’t know the name of the statute but it is not the Plaza de Bolívar I wanted to see.  Even though our little detour was short, it was very interesting.  We met people along the way who were eager to show us true Colombian hospitality.  They were more than willing to help whenever I asked in my halting Spanish for directions and in a few instances they did not hesitate to stop and offer their assistance to us.

To sum it all up, I realized a couple of interesting facts on the first day of our trip.  Generally speaking, people are more willing to help than to harm.  Two worlds collided (mine and my sister’s) – the radically impulsive and the overly cautious.  If we were going to have a great trip then I would have to reign in my independent solo-traveler nature and make it work so that we can both enjoy ourselves for the duration of the trip.

More to come on Ecuador and Peru and traveling with my sister in tow in subsequent postings.

Dear followers and visitors to my website, 2017 was simply an awesome year.  Thanks to you who followed, supported, viewed, or read my blog.  You made it worthwhile.  I look forward to bringing you a lot more travel related information, and experiences in 2018.  I am eager to see how God will lead me and the level He will take this site to in 2018.

I love hearing from you so don’t forget to click follow, like or please comment in the section below.  I wish you God’s choicest blessings and pray that you travel safely as you broaden your horizons in 2018.

Much love and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Itinerary Planner

Airport Peeves

Running through airports seems to be my thing.  No matter how early I arrive, I am always scrambling to get to my gate with just a few minutes to spare before boarding. There was only one time that I can recall, a thanksgiving day, when I leisuredly strolled to my gate and had the chance to sit and relax.  I guess everyone else was dining at their thanksgiving buffet while I was busy catching my flight.

What causes the delay?  Mostly the long lines I encounter at check-in.  I often feel afraid I will not make it through the lines in time for the flight.  I have witnessed instances where check-in personnel would come up to the line and ask if they were persons on line to Airport 2fast-track since their flight was about to board.  The up and down curving lines, sometimes three or four rows deep can be a bit daunting.  My theory is that the winding lines make you dizzy, and by the time you reach the TSA agent you are so confused from going around and around, if asked, you might just give them a wrong name.  Don’t read too much into this, it’s just a theory. 😀.

Seriously, I do hate the long lines.  Many airports have found the solution to this by using self check-in kiosks.  This is great, until you realize a few are broken, or there may be a cue for the few that actually work.  What a bummer.  Is it just me?  Do you notice these things too?  I am not painting every airport with a broad brush and certainly my suggestions below are not a one size fit all solution.

This year’s top 10 airports are truly wonderful (I have passed through half of them). They may be so ascribed for their abundant services, architectural beauty, preferred guest lounges, finest eateries, luxury retail shops, sterile clean restrooms (if there is such a thing), whatever.  These are all great, but since no one surveyed me, I would like to go on record to state what I would like to see at an airport when I arrive.  Nothing crazy or unheard of, but rather simple and should be a basic consideration at every airport:

  1. Airport 3Baggage claim should not be far away.  I shouldn’t have to walk two miles (exaggeration) to collect my bags before exiting the building.
  2. A local bus-stop or train station should be nearby for the budget traveler like me who may not be able to afford taxi or the overpriced hotel shuttles.
  3. Free welcome maps and booklets should be available.  I’m in your city, boosting your economy.  I shouldn’t have to purchase points of interest information in your city.
  4.  Information desk should be located near gates, and I am not talking about the Hudson News stores.
  5. Knowledgeable persons should be manning formation desk at all times.  Duhhh!
  6. 24 hour foreign exchange should be available for departing and arriving visitors.  And last but not least
  7. More pet rest-stops.  Man’s best friend needs to relieve themself too.  Do I need to say more?

My list can go on and on to the point where it may sound like I need a personal valet too. Lol.  I appreciate the finer things in life but I am not always in a position to afford them. However, I still need to give some credit to the check-in process, because I have always managed to board my flights for my destination on-time.

Fellow bloggers what are your airport peeves?  I may not have a solution for them but would love to hear them nonetheless.