30 September 2008

From The Mail Bag : Pilot Pensions

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

30/09/2008 - From The Mail Bag : Pilot Pensions

The other day "walp" left a comment on my post regarding the Delta & Northwest Airlines shareholders vote on the airlines merging (25/09/2008 – The Delta Airlines & Northwest Airlines Merger : The Shareholders Vote Today). The comment left by "walp" caused me to read it, and reread it, a number of times.

I was going to post a link to the comment left by "walp" in my weekly round up, however I have chosen to simply post their comment here directly for you all to read.

It probably seems to make sense to make this deal a reality but employees need to beware. Bad things happen to airline employees and you will read one sad story below.

According to several sources, Mr. Anderson, the current leader of Delta Air Lines, does not plan to reopen the issue of Delta Retired Pilots Pensions.

When Delta entered bankruptcy a little over 3 years ago, the very first day they requested and were given permission by the court to eliminate the retired pilots pension even though they had the funds in place to continue with these pensions.

The pension funds were given to the government entity called Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. This outfit takes over failed pensions and throws all the funds from these failed plans into one pot and uses some magic formulas to come up with some pittance for the unfortunate pensioner. They were very happy to get all the hundreds of millions from the Delta pilots pension fund since they need the money to stay solvent. Now, instead of the retired Delta pilots receiving what they worked their entire careers earning the PBGC worked their magic and decided we should receive a very small percentage of our original earned pension. Yes, earned, it was part of our compensation that was put into the fund all during our career. Now it has been stolen by delta and they do not want to reinstate it but they will pay the pensions of the retired Northwest pilots.

Can anybody explain how it will be fair for a pilot that worked his or her entire career for Delta and now has only approximately 10-12% of his or her original pension paid by the PBGC.

Now, Delta and Northwest are going merge and the new airline will be called Delta and as I noted earlier, the retired Northwest pilots will continue to get their pensions from Delta and the original REAL Delta Pilots will not be reinstated to the same pension.

Totally unfair and nothing that the Delta retired pilots had the choice or opportunity to vote on. The deal was struck between ALPA (Air Line Pilots Association - the union) and the former Delta management. Again, retired Delta pilots had no choice.

I want the news media and every blog and internet source to jump on this discussion as well as any customer of this giant bully called Delta.

Almost no current Delta passenger or customer knows what happened to the small group of retired pilots that were treated so grossly unfair.

The NEW Delta needs to do what is right and that is to include the original Delta retired pilots in the new company pilot pension plan.

It will take some undoing of past agreements and require somehow reaquiring the pension moneys that were simply given to the PBGC but if the lawyers could figure out how to take it away from this group then, they can figure out how to reaquire the funds.

Delta spent untold millions to attorneys to do the bankruptcy and try as we could, the small group of retired Delta pilots could not ever come up with enough money to combat the army of Delta attorneys, we were simply railroaded.

Any legal costs to reinstate our pensions should be born by Delta since they are the ones that did the deed. It is only the right thing to do.

Come on folks, jump in on this issue. Lets hear what you have to say. Do you agree that Delta should reinstate the retired Delta Pilots Pension Fund that was taken away? If you disagree, speak up with your reasons.

Remember, it could be your group next. No labor group is immune.


I can't say I disagree with anything "walp" has said in this comment.

Happy Flying!

29 September 2008

I Love The Smell Of Jet-A Fuel In The Morning

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

29/09/2008 – I Love The Smell Of Jet A Fuel In The Morning

Periodically I am asked the question of "What gets you up and motivated in the morning." The question has been asked dozens of different ways, but overall it is the same question of what motivates me to do what I do. I can give a few complex answers, some sentimental answers, but I'd prefer to leave you with the first answer that tends to pop into my head when I am asked this question...........

Robert Duvall has a famous line in the movie Apocalypse Now, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." I have not personally smelled napalm, nor do I think I'd enjoy the smell of napalm, but I can say this, "I love the smell of Jet-A Fuel in the morning."

The distinct smell of 'Jet-A' reminds me that people are moving, planes are flying, and there are places out there waiting to be visited and explored. Whether I am bouncing through the world or helping others travel around the world, I am inspired by that distinct smell of 'Jet-A.'

As I continue to work with flyers, be they photographers or corporate business travelers, I keep an eye on the airline industry. I watch trends, I follow schedule and route changes, play close attention to the stability and instability of airlines and I have recently turned my focus to a different direction with The Travel Strategist.

The newly created additional direction of The Travel Strategist is consulting directly with airlines on how they can better service their passengers. Airlines are losing money hand over fist due to a variety of reasons, the cost of 'Jet-A' topping the list. As the airlines lose money, more passengers seek out a 'race to the bottom,' in search of the lowest airfare. With the race to the bottom airlines need to pick up the slack and start aggressively seeking out how to attract their 'premium passengers,' and retain a loyal base of frequent business travelers.

Airlines have known for a long time that it is better to retain someone who flies 50+ last minute segments per year than market heavily to the couple who flies once a year from a cold destination to a warm destination during a peak travel period. Some airlines are currently shedding loyal flyers due to their 'anti-customer' tactics. These tactics may work for generating income from the infrequent traveler, but in the end will cost these airlines a steady stream of high-revenue passengers. These new practices by some are airlines are forcing many frequent business travelers to start looking for a 'new home.' With many high revenue passengers looking for 'new homes,' there is a lot of potential revenue up for grabs and the airlines shouldn't miss their potential for seeking out these potential long term frequent business flyers.

When an industry is in turmoil only the strong survive. As travelers it is on our best interest to keep as many potential options available. When airlines collapse we all lose when it comes to our potential travel options.

Maybe we'll get lucky and some airlines will think outside the box, work with some low cost high reward options and make their potential future customer base happy.......giving all of us travelers one more airline on the road to stability, ensuring more potential options exist as we make our travel plans.

Happy Flying!

26 September 2008

26/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Bags-&-Regional Jets : Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Make Your Own Modular Bags : A Dead Airline Rises, etc

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

26/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Bags-&-Regional Jets : Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Make Your Own Modular Bags : A Dead Airline Rises, etc etc

Wow, this week has been insane with travel news in the airline industry, particularly within the SkyTeam airline alliance. For starters Alitalia, an airline I have been watching die for more than a year appeared to be fading into the history books with the bagpipes gently growing in sound in the distance. I hoped for the best, but was sure the executioner was sharpening the blade........as of this morning it looks like Alitalia might have a ray of hope to live on and continue serving as Italy's National Flag Carrier. Alitalia has a long way to go to compete with a fierce European market, but with some strategic changes they can push forward and become a serious contender in the international and intra-Europe market.

Before I move into the week in review, I'd like mention an addition to my Get Up & Fly Photo Boot Camps. I have had some significant interest in these workshops, yet seats remain available! Just to entice those of you are interested to jump onboard I'm adding this offer.......for those photographers who join me on the New York and Los Angeles Get Up & Fly Boot Camps, I'll be supplying you with one of my favourite bags for the journey! Before we depart I'll ship you one of the bags I have discussed repeatedly on Flying With Fish so you can pack it up and bring it with you! Why am I doing this? Because I think this bag is outstanding and an excellent took for photogs to use, work out of and help dictate a stripped down minimalist kit on the road. For more information on the Get Up & Fly Boot Camps visit: www.comeflywithfish.com

For those of you who read Flying With Fish on a regular basis you'll notice my first ad went up this week. On the right hand column is now an ad from Adorama. Why Adorama? Well for starters I purchase a lot of my camera equipment from Adorama. Secondly would be Jeff Snyder, quite possibly the worlds great professional camera sales rep, I followed him from his old place of business to his current position at Adorama. Need any camera equipment, click the advertisement and a portion of your purchase will go towards supporting the maintaining of Flying With Fish. Don't want to support Flying With Fish but just want excellent service? Drop Jeff an e-mail at jsnyder@adorama.com or catch him on AIM at JSnyderAdorama

This week I kicked off Flying With Fish with an article on how do deal with leaving your bag at the stairs when boarding a regional jet or turbo prop flight. No one likes being separated from their bag, especially photographers, but there are ways to pack and minimize any risk of damage to your bag and the kit you've packed inside it. Find out more here: 22/09/2008 – Leaving Your Bag At The Stairs On Regional Flights, AKA: Valet Check, Stair Check, Planeside Check

On Monday I discussed the almost immediate demise of Alitalia. I am very happy to report that as of this morning they appear to be diverting disaster and have the possibility of continuing to fly. I have some significant concepts on what Alitalia must do to attract and retain premium passengers, and continue to reinforce passenger loyalty, in order to turn around their perception in the minds of business travelers and the flying public, but I'll keep those details to myself for the moment. To find out about Alitalia's saga, visit here: 22/09/2008 – Watching An Airline Die A Slow Death : Alitalia's Almost Certain Failure

Last week I asked the readers of Flying With Fish to suggest an ideal frequent flyer program for photographer Mark Rebilas in this post, 15/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Help A Photographer Maximize His Miles. This week I revealed my detailed answers for what two frequent flyer programs I believe would most benefit Mark in this post: 23/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program Pt-2 : Fish's Suggestions For Helping A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Who wants to go to Baghdad? It may not be a tourist destination, but now it will be serviced by Turkish Airlines' mainline flights from Istanbul. These are the first 'mainline' flights to fly to Baghdad, although Royal Jordanian flies regional jet service and Iraqi Airways flies a limited international schedule. This is a definite sign of progress for international business to progress as Iraq emerges into the global market place. Find out more here: 23/09/2008 – Baghdad Gets Scheduled Flights To Europe With Turkish Airlines

Choosing a 1-stop-shopping bag system for short trips that require minimal camera gear can be a challenge. While looking at a variety of systems I decided to make my own out of a few Mountainsmith bags. Find out what I have done to meet my needs and cut down on carrying excess weight here: 24/09/2008 – Simple Baggage Solutions : Make Your Own Modular System

Earlier this month I discussed American Airlines putting WiFi back in this sky in this entry, 2/09/2008 – American Airlines Puts WiFi In The Sky. This week I discuss American Airlines repackaging perks that have offered to their 'elite flyers' and how the new announcements of these perks make the airline appears as if they are only roughly a decade behind their competitors in offering these perks. American Airlines might want to focus on customer service (other airlines can focus on this as well) before repackaging its frequent flyer programs and muddling the AAdvantage frequent flyer program. You can read more about AA's 'new' PriorityAAccess here: 24/09/2008 – American Airlines Adds Perks For AAdvantage ‘Elites’...just a few years behind all of their competitors

On Thursday the shareholders of both Delta and Northwest voted overwhelmingly in favour of merging the two airlines. There will be some turbulence in the skies as the merger terms are smoothed out and the two giant legacy carriers move to become one. Both carriers bring significant advantages to the merger, and combined they will be a massive global powerhouse that will need to be factored in by nearly all other airlines servicing international routes into the United States. You can read up on the merger in this post: 25/09/2008 – The Delta Airlines & Northwest Airlines Merger : The Shareholders Vote Today

Looking for a fun iPhone 'App' to help you building a new doorframe at home or lining up your tripod on the edge of the ocean? This week's iPhone 'App' Of The Week is "A Free Level." Learn more about this fun took you can install in your iPhone here: 25/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : A Free Level

That's it for this week.......but feel free to visit www.comeflywithfish.com and join me on an upcoming journey!

Happy Flying!

25 September 2008

iPhone 'App' Of The Week : A Free Level

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

25/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : A Free Level

This week's iPhone 'App' of the week, A Free Level, may seem whimsical at first, but for a photographer in the field this 'App' can be a fantastic tool!

Many photographers use tripods or heads with a level built into them, however on the road I don't know any ultra compact tripods that have a level integrated into them. To get around my hatred of an uneven horizon in certain architecture photos I downloaded "A Free Level" for my iPhone.

A Free Level is just that....a completely free 'App' that turns your iPhone into a level! Now whenever I am struggling to line up a straight horizon, especially when working with tilt-shift lenses, I whip out my iPhone, place it against the hot-shoe of my camera and get my camera straight and level.

This tool may not be ideal for general travel use, but you can always place it on the tray table in front of you and find out what direction the plane is leaning.

Happy Flying!
--Click Images Below To Enlarge--

The Delta Airlines & Northwest Airlines Merger : The Shareholders Vote Today

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

25/09/2008 – The Delta Airlines & Northwest Airlines Merger : The Shareholders Vote Today

By the time many of you read this Northwest Airlines' stockholders will have voted on the proposed merger with Delta Airlines in New York, and Delta Airlines' shareholders will have voted on the merger with Northwest Airlines in Atlanta.

The recent recalculations of the merger show a potential for the two airlines to save approximately US$2-billion. With the merger a hot topic in both Delta and Northwest Hub cities, the two airlines have promised to keep all their hubs operating if there is a merger, giving the 'new combined airline' a total of six hubs, as well as a number of significant 'focus cities' to maintain their operations.

review of the merger is pending, and will be released after the share holders vote to merge the two airlines. The merger of the to airlines will create one airline flying under the name "Delta Airlines" and the long storied history of Northwest Airlines and its bright red tails will fade into our memories.

This merger is supposed to create the world's largest airline, eclipsing American Airlines' parent company, AMR. AMR is currently the world's largest airline operating more than 900 aircraft. This information tends to look quite incorrect when you look at the actual 'in-service' fleet aircraft numbers. Even after the merger the combined Delta/Northwest fleet will still be quite a bit smaller than AMR in terms of post-merger 'Delta owned aircraft.'

Currently AMR's fleet consists of 922 aircraft. 635 are flown by American Airlines with an additional 287 operated by American Eagle. Going by the current fleet size numbers, a combined Delta Airlines & Northwest Airlines fleet will consist of 716 aircraft. Delta brings 452 aircraft to the merger and Northwest brings 264 to the merger.

So while the merger press sheets stress a larger fleet that AMR, even if you add in Delta's subsidiary carrier Comair's fleet of 138 aircraft, the total aircraft still remains at 854 aircraft for Delta and 922 for AMR.

If the shareholders vote in favour of the merger, there are many hurdles ahead for the two airlines merge. The huge hurdle is merging the combined pilots Unions. The pay rates are quite different between the carriers. The seniority between the two airlines is different. Even the aircraft and routes the airlines fly are quite different.

The different between airlines and routes is not only an issue for sorting out Union and Pay seniority; it also gets tricky when combining the fleets and route structures. Delta Airlines flies an all Boeing fleet, while Northwest flies a combined Boeing and Airbus fleet.

In creating parity between the two airlines Pilots' Unions, the 'best guess' is that a Delta 777 captain who flies long haul would be equal to a Northwest Airlines 747 captain who flies long haul. After that a Delta 767 captain who flies long haul would equal that of a Northwest A330 captain who flies long haul.......but wait....

Delta operates the 767-300 domestically and on long-haul international routes, as well as a 767-400 both domestically and internationally while Northwest Airlines only flies the A330 on long-haul international routes, including routes over the Pacific to service the Asia market. How will these line up?

In fact, the only common aircraft Delta and Northwest both operate is the Boeing 757-200 (Northwest also operates a 757 sub-fleet in Japan operating of their hub at Tokyo's Narita, as well as the Boeing 757-300).

Just to further complicate things, outside of the passenger fleet, Northwest Airlines also operates a complete fleet of 747 cargo aircraft.

The pilots Unions seem to be on-board with this merger, at least in public, so hopefully they can work these issues out.

On the operations side, Northwest Airlines has a long and intertwined history with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The history between these two airlines is so intertwined that they have often alternated aircraft on routes, chosen to fly compatible fleets over the years and designed a strikingly similar business class......that they both branded as "World Business Class."

What happens to this relationship? Will Northwest's hub in Amsterdam become Delta's hub in Amsterdam to continue to operate in complete harmony with KLM?

It is clear that the frequent flyer programs will merger and that Northwest Airlines' WorldPerks will be folded into Delta Airlines' SkyMiles program. Currently Delta's frequent flyer program offers status based only on flown miles, while Northwest's frequent flyer program operates on both flown miles and/or flown segments. With many Northwest elite’s having many short-haul 'segment elites,' will Delta adopt segments, or will Northwest elites be forced out of their status sending them to other airlines and programs?

As the two frequent flyers are merged what is to become of Northwest’s relationship with the Air France-KLM Flying Blue frequent flyer program? With reciprocal upgrades for flyers between the two programs, and Air France-KLM elites having access to the Northwest WorldClubs, will they now have access to Delta's Crown Room Club’s?

I know I am getting bogged down in the relatively minor details. The shareholders are interested in the stock swap values, the buy out packages, the executive structure and the cost reduction of combining overlapping routes...

............wait, I'm interested in the cost reduction of combining overlapping routes.

There are certain flights I have enjoyed on both airlines that are popular flights and that fly out generally full with high revenue passengers. Most of these flights are early or late morning trans-continental routes. These routes are between cities such as New York and San Francisco, and they are fiercely competitive between Delta, American, United, JetBlue and Virgin America. These flights will now be 'overlapping' when combined with a route with a stop in Minneapolis on the Northwest vs a non-stop on Delta. Other routes would be Northwest's extensive flights between North America and Asia, via Tokyo Japan. Will some of these routes, which are all high traffic routes, be eliminated to allow the combined airline to continue its daily non-stop from Delta's 'Fortress' in Atlanta?

The two airlines compliment each other well. Northwest Airlines dominates the Midwest in many markets and has a strong hold on the Pacific routes, while Delta has a strong presence along the east coast and transcontinental routes, along with a significant route structure for Europe and a growing presence in the Middle East.

Overall, while I'd love to see the airline remain independent, I fully understand the merger. In my opinion as an observer sitting on the sideline this is possibly the best matched merger of airlines we have seen in a very long time, ever since......well since Northwest Airlines merged with Republic Airlines.

.............so let's see what the shareholders say. Will we be seeing 747-400s painted up in Delta's livery in the future?

Happy Flying!

24 September 2008

American Airlines Adds Perks For AAdvantage 'Elites'......just a few years behind all of their competitors

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

24/09/2008 – American Airlines Adds Perks For AAdvantage 'Elites'......just a few years behind all of their competitors

Yesterday afternoon American Airlines made a bold announcement to the 'elite' members of their AAdvantage frequent flyer program and those who fly on full-fare and in premium cabin seats. The 'bold' announcement is called PriorityAAccess. What PriorityAAccess offers these flyers is a set of perks that have been enjoyed by 'elite' frequent flyers of more than 1/2 of a dozen other North American airlines for quite a few years now.

American Airlines' PriorityAAccess promises to make cruising through the airport easier and faster for 'elite' flyers and premium passengers. How does it plan on making the airport experience more streamlined? American Airlines will be opening up 'priority security lanes' for shorter lines at the TSA screening checkpoints at a number of airports. These lanes are generally available to all elite flyers of the airline and their OneWorld alliance partners.

American will be adding priority security screening at a number of airports including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Chicago O’Hare (ORD). It should be noted that American Airline's primary competitor, United Airlines (with whom they share their primary hub, ORD) has offered priority screening lanes at all of these airports for many years.

Another perk of PriorityAAccess is that 'elite' flyers and premium fare passengers will now be allowed priority when boarding flights. This means that they will be called separately, ahead of general boarding. This is a nice perk, and one that has been in place for many years with nearly every other 'legacy' airline in the United States......and one that seems to already be in place with American Airlines.

What confuses me about the new PriorityAAccess' boarding structure is that flights are generally already boarded in this order:
A) First//Business Class passengers
B) Executive Platinum / Platinum passengers
C) Gold passengers

Does this new lane just group all of these passengers into a single group of "PriorityAAccess?" if everyone is grouped together, won't certain routes, such as New York's LaGuardia (LGA) to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) may end up with 65% of the plane boarding at the same time with PriorityAAccess?

PriorityAAccess appears to create a while new boarding lane at the gate. This new separate lane as a perk follows the lead of other airlines such as Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines, who even go so far as to have a separate boarding lane at the gate with a red carpet (actual Continental's is blue) welcoming these passengers on-board.

A few years ago American Airlines spent millions of dollars building an outstanding, state of the art and beautiful Admirals Club at Tokyo's Narita International Airport (NRT). This lounge while wonderful was constructed to service American Airlines' five flights per day from NRT (you read that correctly, only 5 flights per day).

Since American Airlines has always claimed to be focused on the business traveler, and proven so in some respects, such as in-seat power on all 'mainline aircraft' and reintroducing in-flight WiFi (as I had written about earlier this month here : 2/09/2008 – American Airlines Puts WiFi In The Sky), why did they think that building an Admiral's Club for five flights, when their passengers have access to the JAL Sakura Lounge at Narita, rather than offering more incentives to their 'elite' flyers? An airlines most frequent flyers, those who fly 50,000+ miles per year, those who purchase full-fare economy seats (Y-fare seats) and those who purchase business class and first class seats should see significant benefits from an airline. These 'premium passengers' are the ones putting the money in American Airlines' coffers.

Looking at PriorityAAccess vs Narita's Admiral's Club, it is much less expensive to offset the costs of maintaining priority security lanes at a handful of airports than it was to construct a redundant OneWorld lounge at NRT, especially with all the OneWorld Airlines residing in Terminal 2. How did American Airlines not view the perk of elite and premium passengers boarding flights first? Priority boarding costs the American Airlines NOTHING when compared to the operational costs of maintaining a lounge that services only five flights per day (and generally less than 500 passengers per day, with only 265 premium class seats departing from NRT daily if all the first and business seats are occupied).

I'd like to commend American Airlines for offering its elite and premium passenger’s added perks for their loyalty. Many airlines are stripping out the perks offered to their best flyers. I'm just curious why American Airlines is touting these new perks when they are nearly a decade behind their competition (if not longer in some cases).

Happy Flying!

23 September 2008

Simple Baggage Solutions : Make Your Own Modular System

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

24/09/2008 – Simple Baggage Solutions : Make Your Own Modular System

There are dozens of modular bag systems on the market today that are used by photographers. These bags are for general packing solutions, photography specific solutions and a hybrid of both. As I have been trying to reduce the gear I travel with for 'general shooting' situations I had started to investigate a variety of bags possibilities for more than a dozen manufacturers.

While researching a variety of bags one night I started staring at a set of bags I have used, trusted, loved and preached about often on Flying With Fish, and almost everywhere else I discuss bags. These bags as you frequent readers may have already guessed are my Mountainsmith bags.

To make a simple carry on + roll-aboard that could carry everything I'd need for a 'simple kit,' I turned to the Mountainsmith Correspondent roll-aboard bag, The Day and The Tour. These three bags can be easily combined into two bags for short trips, around the corner or around The World.

When initially setting up this configuration I removed the top 'cube' from inside the Mountainsmith Correspondent and sized up the Mountainsmith Tour to see if it would easily fit inside. Once I determined that the Tour would fit into the open slot, normally filled by a 'cube,' I was off and running.

For my needs, this how I packed for travel:

-The Day : 4 magazines (Photo District News, Airliner World, National Geographic, The Economist); sleeve of 10 DVDs, Newswear pouch with my Sony PSP Survival Kit (swapping the Skullcandy headsets for the Sony MDR-NC22 headsets), Vector 100watt emPower inverter; 15" MacPowerBook, PowerBook AC power supply;

- The Tour: Domke 4-slot insert (the original non-padded chocolate brown insert, how many of you remember when the bags were only brown?); PSP power supply; Garmin GPS; GPS accessories; Think Tank Cable Management 10 pouch (for all my random photo & computer accessories, mobile phone chargers, CF card reader, thumb-drive, etc, etc), Energizer rapid "AA" battery charger

- The Correspondent
(In The 'Cube') : Canon 5D w/BG-E4 grip; Canon 20D w/BG-E2 grip; Canon 16-35f2.8L; Canon 70-200f2.8L; Canon 24f1.4L; Canon 50f1.4; Canon EF-12II extension tube; Canon 580ex; Think Tank PeeWee Pocket Rocket (CF Card Wallet) ; two spare "AA" packs of rechargeable batteries, two spare BP-511 batteries; Canon ETTL Cord; Ilford Anti-Stat cloth

(In The Pocket Intended For A Laptop & Magazines): two button down folded shirts (folded and inside the laptop sleeve), 2 pairs of a socks, 2 pairs of boxers, belt.

(In The Inside Flap Clear Pockets) Hefty 1-quart (TSA Approved) bag with toiletries, stick of deodorant , two Canon battery chargers for the BP-511 batteries.

(In The Main Compartment): one pair of folded pants (placed above 'The Cube' behind The Tour)

With all of my gear with me, set up in easy to access and configured in a way that is easy to both unpack and repack, I am able to get to work easily. Once I am ready to get to work I remove the gear I'll be shooting with and set up my Mountainsmith Tour pack. Generally I'll head out with a 16-35f2.8 attached to my 5D and a 50f1.4 on my 20D, leaving the 24f1.4 & 70-200f2.8 in The Tour, along with a Canon 580ex, spare batteries, a Think Tank PeeWee Pocket Rocket and an ETTL cord.

The items that were in The Tour get transferred to 'The Cube' and off I go.

I have now traveled with this kit of three transcontinental trips to shoot projects and weddings and the set up has been perfect. The size and weight are easy to handle, the design function of all three items are ideal for traveling fast and light, while allowing me to carry everything I need to make sure I arrive with everything I need to do my job.

Overall, as I have mentioned time-and-time again, I trust my Mountainsmith products (they even make my mobile phone belt holster for my Razr and iPhone, the Mountainsmith Amp). The products Mountainsmith makes are reliable and durable, the space is ample, the bright yellow interior of the waist packs are easy to work out of , the zippers are strong and at the end of the day I know their products will take anything I can throw at them (including being left at the stairs, loaded with my gear, when boarding a regional jet or turbo prop flight).

Next time you're looking for a complete carry-on solution think outside the box and make your own.........maybe also check out the Mountainsmith line of bags for your needs.

Below are two photos of my Mountainsmith kit

Happy Flying!
--Click Images To Enlarge--

Baghdad Gets Scheduled Flights To Europe With Turkish Airlines

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

23/09/2008 – Baghdad Gets Scheduled Flights To Europe With Turkish Airlines

Commercial air travel is a key element to the growth of international business. Without the ability to travel creating an international network is extremely challenging. Even in this day-and-age where we can fax, email, FedEx and video chat, being able to visit locations and sit down face to face is often how business is conducted.

Today Turkish Airlines announced that it would begin regularly scheduled service between its 'hub' in Istanbul (IST) and the capital of Iraq, Baghdad (BGW). This service which is set to begin on the 26th of October, and operate on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

For a nation seeking to rebuild its self and move forward with international commerce this new route allows business travelers the ability to easily travel between Iraq and many European business centers. Turkish Airlines' hub at IST is also ideal for travel within the Middle East region as well.

While Royal Jordanian Airlines has operated regular service between its 'hub' in Amman (AMM) and BGW, and Iraqi Airways also operated service between BGW and AMM, as well as Tehran (THR), these flights limit the potential for doing business in a more efficient manner with European nations due to location and limited connecting flight schedules.

The arrival of Turkish Airlines into BGW also brings the arrival of modern 'mainline' aircraft rather than Royal Jordanian's regional jet flights and the older aircraft in service by Iraqi Airways.

Hopefully the new service into Baghdad is beneficial and allows Iraqi business to grow, expand, and help rebuild a national that is one of the original cradles of civilization.

Happy Flying!

Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program Pt-2 : Fish's Suggestions For Helping A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

23/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program Pt-2 : Fish's Suggestions For Helping A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Last week I posed a question to the readers of Flying With Fish. I asked the readers to consider the flying habits of photographer Mark Rebilas' and offer up their opinions on the best frequent flyer program for him. I received a few e-mails from readers, oddly enough nearly all the replies involved moving from US Airways' Dividend Miles to United Airlines’ Mileage Plus. This a logical choice (and I like United, and am a former United Premier Executive frequent flyer) , but given the state of the industry not the best plan to maximize Mark's potential benefits from belonging to a frequent flyer program.

So what would I suggest to Mark when selecting a frequent flyer program given his 'home airport' and flying habits?

For a primary frequent flyer program, given that Mark's home airport is a Star Alliance hub, I would suggest signing up for Air Canada's AeroPlan and ditching his US Airways Dividend Miles program, despite Phoenix (PHX) being a US Airways fortress.

For a secondary frequent flyer program I would suggest looking into the Air France-KLM Flying Blue program

Why would I select Air Canada's AeroPlan rather than suggesting Mark put his miles in 'the other' United States based Star Alliance airline, United Airlines? I suggest this change for a few reasons.

I'll start with why I believe Mark should eliminate the US Airways Dividend Miles from his frequent flyer programs. US Airways has stripped out the benefits of the Dividend Miles program to the point that it has essentially no value to its loyal customers. There are no longer any elite bonuses; the reduction in first class seating has eliminated the upgrades for most frequent flyers; the lack of lounge access for US Airways' Star Gold flyers; and the lack of a significant difference between being a Gold and a Chairman, makes the program less than beneficial for anyone.

United Airlines may offer more things to its frequent flyers, however their system does not allow for complementary upgrades and like US Airways offers no complementary lounge access for their Star Gold flyers.

What can Air Canada's AeroPlan offer Mark? It can offer him Star Alliance Star Gold at 35,000 miles, or 50 flown segments, vs 50,000 miles, or 50 flown segments, required to reach Star Alliance Star Gold. What does saving 15,000 miles to get to Start Gold get Mark? It gets him Priority/Zone 1 boarding, priority baggage, elite bonuses to earn him additional miles and it gets him worldwide access to Star Alliance lounges, even when flying domestically, when he is flying on a Star Alliance flights.

As a secondary frequent flyer program for Mark is an unconventional move to skip out on Delta's SkyMiles program. As a former Delta Airlines Platinum frequent flyer (as well as a former US Airways Platinum frequent flyer, maintaining Platinum on both airlines simultaneously for two years) I can honestly say that Delta's SkyMiles program offers considerably more than US Airways' Dividend Miles program.

So why skip Delta? Why overlook Sky Team airline alliance partners Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines? For quite a few reasons, the first reason is that upgrades on Delta Airlines on many of the transcontinental routes which Mark flies are very hard to get access to for those below the status of Platinum SkyMiles system. Delta also no longer offers complimentary membership to the Crown Room Club, even for its Platinum flyers (this is one reason I chose to depart the SkyMiles program)

Why skip Northwest's WorldPerks Program (which I am formerly a WorldPerks Gold for 2006 and 2007)? Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines have heavily been engaged in merger talks. Should the likely merger happen Northwest Airlines will cease to exist and the two airlines will merge into the single entity Delta Airlines. This merger will approximately double the number of Delta SkyMiles Elites and in the process the merged airline will most likely further slash the benefits available to their 'elite' flyers.

How come I have completely written of Continental Airline's OnePass program? The answer to this one is simple. Continental Airlines has entered into an extensive agreement with Star Alliance carrier United Airlines and they will be leaving SkyTeam to join the Star Alliance, along with United Airlines and US Airways.

So how does this bring us to joining Air France-KLM's Flying Blue frequent flyer program? There are a few reasons I arrived at the Flying Blue program (I am currently an Air France-KLM Flying Blue Gold and a member of KLM's Club China). The first reasoning behind the Flying Blue program is Mark can gain status with either miles or segments. The Delta SkyMiles program is based on miles only, not miles and segments. With just 40,000 miles or 30 segments Mark can reach Gold (25,000 miles or 15 segment will put him at Silver). Elite flyers in the Flying Blue program can get upgrades when flying domestically in the United States on Northwest Airlines as well. I know it sounds to good to be true, but while flying on Northwest Airlines as a Flying Blue Gold I have a nearly perfect track record in getting upgrades on most routes I fly, many of which are transcontinental routes. This upgrade system is in place because Air France-KLM is an owner of the Northwest Workperks program, and Northwest's long and heavily intertwined relationship with KLM. While a Delta Gold or a Northwest Gold has no lounge access (and neither do the Platinum flyers) Gold status flyers with Flying Blue have access to Air France and Northwest Airline lounges Worldwide. As a United States based Flying Blue member Mark would have access to all SkyTeam lounges Worldwide when flying on any SkyTeam flight.

.......as a 'bonus' Northwest elites also have access to upgrades while flying on Continental Airlines (while they are still a SkyTeam member until late 2009), so Gold status on Air France would allow Mark to access potential upgrades on two SkyTeam carriers, and earn qualifying miles while flying Delta while he earns status.

There you have it. My two likely candidate programs for Mark maximize his frequent flyer experience, while barely making any changes to his flying habits or preferred airlines and airline alliances.

So if Mark flies 80 segments a year, or 75,000 miles, which is likely based on his last two years of travel, he can achieve Gold/Elite status with two major global airline alliances and give himself more options, a greater earning on his butt-in-seat miles (BIS) and more comfort when stuck in airports around The World.

Happy Flying!

22 September 2008

Watching An Airline Die A Slow Death : Alitalia's Almost Certain Failure

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

22/09/2008 – Watching An Airline Die A Slow Death : Alitalia's Almost Certain Failure

I have been following what I believed to be Alitalia's almost certain demise for nearly a year, if not longer. Alitalia has only posted a single profitable year since 1998, even with a €1.5bil cash infusion from the Italian Government in 1998, and has sustained losses of more than €3.7bil between 2000-&-2008.

Watching an airline continue to fail so massively is made more difficult when you also watch the airline's Unions maintaining an unwavering stance to allow no concessions in the face of an airline that is shedding approximately €1mil (US$1.4mil) per day.

The Unions' stance initially caused me to step back and wonder what the Unions knew, until the last few months. Over the past 7 or 8 months it became blatantly apparent that the Unions were not making an educated decision. The Unions have merely been sticking their heads in the ground.

Alitalia for years has lagged behind other European 'Flag Carriers' in terms of on-time performance, in-flight amenities (an example is the airline still not offering in-seat electrical power in their business class cabin on their long haul fleet), and has continued to operate out of a 'hub airport' that can only be described as 'chaos.'

Many international airlines operate out of complex airports, some of these airports aren't always up to the standards an airline would like. Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) however operates at a level of chaos that would best be described as 'pure chaos' on a good day.

The baggage situation alone at FCO appears to be unrivaled in terms of delays, lost baggage and a total inability to manage an airport's basic operations effectively. The baggage operations at FCO, which are largely run by Alitalia, was so out of control at one point that nearly 100,000 pieces of baggage were lost or mid-sorted in a single weekend during the summer of 2007.

Alitalia's 'hub airport' has even been referred to as a 'National Disgrace' by members of the Parlamento Italiano

In the last week Alitalia's Unions have refused a €1bil (US$1.4bil) bailout/buy out by CAI, an Italian company who owns AirOne. In the face of total collapse, the Unions refused the offers and eventually CAI removed their offer from the table.

Today Alitalia is continuing to have some problems getting fuel to their aircraft. The fuel delivery trucks are running, but fuel delivery companies are requiring guaranteed funds before fueling Alitalia's aircraft.

.........so where does this leave Alitalia? After 62 years of being Italy's National Flag Carrier it appears that Altero Matteoli, Italy's Transportation Minister, is beginning the process of rescinding Alitalia's license to operate as a commercial airline.

It is highly likely that my year of watching the slow painful death of Alitalia will come to an end by the end of this week.

Is this how it ends : Alitalia 1946-2008?

Happy Flying!

Leaving Your Bag At The Stairs On Regional Flights, AKA: Valet Check, Stair Check, Planeside Check

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

22/09/2008 – Leaving Your Bag At The Stairs On Regional Flights, AKA: Valet Check, Stair Check, Planeside Check

Not a day seems to pass where I don't get an e-mail or see an enquiry on some travel or photography message board regarding travelers being forced to leave their full-size roll-aboard bag at the stairs of a 'regional jet' or turbo-prop aircraft.

As more airlines reduce their mainline aircraft routes and increase their dependency on smaller regional jets and turbo-prop aircraft the question about leaving your bags plane side has moved from a problem faced only and smaller regional airports and moved into many mid-sized and larger regional airport routes.

Leaving your bag plane side, which has many names depending on the airline you're flying, is a significant concern for many travelers. The obvious concern involves damaging the contents of your bag. As a photographer who travels constantly, and who flies regional jets and turbo-props constantly, I have been dealing with these issues for quite a few years now.

As I have mentioned previously on Flying With Fish my home airport, New Haven (HVN), only have five flights per day, each of those flights is on a US Airways Express Dash-8 turbo-prop. My preferred airport, Providence (PVD), has seen a significant increase in regional jet usage, particularly on short routes I often fly to pick up medium-haul and long-haul flights.

Over the past few years I have only had my equipment damaged once when being forced to 'Valet Check' my bag. It was an isolated incident at Washington DC's Reagan National Airport (DCA) and I was lucky a ramp-supervisor witnessed the incident. A ramp handler from US Airways Express tool my well packed bag and threw it from the back of a regional jet completely missing the baggage loader truck.

Other than this once incident my Think Tank Airport Addicted backpack has flow hundreds of regional jet & turbo prop flights loaded with a minimum of two camera bodies, five lenses, two flashes and other gear and has never had any of the contents damaged. My Mountainsmith Correspondent, which I have recently begun to use, has now flown on dozens of regional flights, has also not had any gear damaged when left at the stairs of a flights.

What is the secret? Well there is no secret.

- First off if you have your laptop in your bag remove it! Do not ever have your laptop placed in the cargo hold, even for a short flight.

- When you chose your bag make sure it is semi-rigid or hard sided. Make sure the interior of the bag has padding, preferably multiple layers of padding, around your equipment.

- Make sure the padding in your bag is secure. You don't want the padding shifting around in the bag so it no longer protects the contents.

- If you have fragile contents in your bag do not be afraid to label the bag as such. My Think Tank Airport Addicted has strips of white duct tape on it with "FRAGILE" written in big bright red block letters on it with a permanent magic marker. My Mountainsmith Correspondent has bright pink duct tape strips on it with "FRAGILE” written on it in big bold black lettering with permanent magic marker.

- When you pack your bag make sure your fragile items are secure. You want in them in place and not shifting around. Damage comes from not only impact but also movement. You can have some 'give room' but not so your items are sliding. For photogs who stack lenses, place something between the lenses. I use the 'orange' Ilford anti-stat cloths, but I have also used a sock and a small face cloth. This is just to reduce things from scraping together; it won't protect your gear from a 15-foot drop (then again a Pelican case probably won't protect your gear from impact damage if it took a 15 foot straight drop).

- If you can hand your bag to a human, rather than just leave it at the stairs, and tell them the contents are fragile it can also be helpful. I know many flyers think the ramp agents damage bags just for fun, but most of them in my experience are nice folks and will take care with your bag if you ask.

I know leaving your bag at the mercy of the 'Valet Check’ is never ideal, but with some careful planning, and knowing if you'll need to leave your bag at the stairs (check your flights before hand to find out the type of aircraft you'll be flying on), can minimize the risk in leaving your bags and potentially fragile equipments at the bottom of the stairs.

For those of you where the term I often use "Valet Check" comes from, it comes from American Airlines' "Valet plane-side baggage check for carry-on bags"

Below is a photo of my Mountainsmith Correspondent on the ramp outside PHL's Terminal F, waiting to be placed under a US Airways Express Dash-8 turbo-prop for the quick flight up to HVN

Happy Flying!
--Click Image To Enlarge--

19 September 2008

19/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Frequent Flyer Choices Pt1 : Packing Your Cameras : Credit Cards & Int'l Travel : Round-the-World Workshop & more!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

19/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Frequent Flyer Choices Pt 1 : Packing Your Cameras : Credit Cards & Int'l Travel : Round-the-World Workshop & more!

This week's Weekly Round up comes to you from Seat 13A on board a US Airways A321 as I cruise past Pennsylvania heading out to San Francisco.

During my layover I had some fun reading Mark Rebilas' Blog (the same Mark Rebilas in who is the subject of this week's 15/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Help A Photographer Maximize His Miles). This week Mark takes a different approach to travel writing up the 99 Things He Hates About Traveling, which is wrote while flying from Phoenix to Atlanta.

During my layover in Philadelphia (PHL), shortly before reading Mark's blog, I had the pleasure of being the subject of an interview by CFO Magazine regarding The Travel Strategist. The interview was an interesting discussion on the outlook of the 2009 business travel market and how business can reduce their overall travel expenses. The article should appear shortly in a future issue of CFO Magazine.

..........now onto the Weekly Round Up

I'll kick this off with mentioning that I have reintroduced the Round-the-World Workshop for Photographers! This workshop will push you to your limits as you travel completely around the world shooting on four continents, in seven countries exploring 8 world class cities all in 10 days. This workshop, which travels entirely in business class, costs less than a round-trip business class ticket from New York to Sydney. Interested in finding out if this workshop is for you? Find out here: 17/09/2008 – Round-the-World Photo Workshop : Reintroduced All For Less Than Flying From New York-to-Sydney In Business Class!

This week began with some entertainment for the global traveler with an introduction to Alanis Morissette's "Citizen Of The Planet." This is a great song for anyone who travels. Check it out here: 15/09/2008 – Music For The Global Traveler

In an effort to help fellow photographers on the road this week I asked readers of Flying With Fish to voice their opinions on the best frequent flyer program for Phoenix (PHX) based photographer Mark Rebilas. It is not to late to voice your opinion by visiting: 15/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Help A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Over the past few years I have received a few dozen e-mails from photographers who have damaged their equipment when packing their camera and lens while connected. The damage generally involves warped camera mounts, damaged CPUs and damaged lens release locks, but there is a way to avoid damaging the mount of your camera and your lens. You can find out how to pack your gear to reduce the risk of damage in this entry: 16/09/2008 – Packing Your Cameras & Lenses Properly : Do Not Attach Your Camera & Lens

Traveling internationally with your credit cards? Have you contacted your credit card company to make sure your card is authorized internationally? For more information check this entry:
17/09/2008 – Using Your Credit Card Internationally : Inform Your Credit Card Company Before You Cross The Border

This week on Flying With Fish wrapped up with the iPhone 'App' Of The Week. This week I explored using TSAwait as a valuable tool for any frequent (and infrequent) travelers. With access to updated average airport security wait times for more than 400 commercial airports in the United States this 'App' is ideal for knowing how much lead time you need to get to the airport and get through security. For more info on TSAwait check this post:
18/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : TSAwait

Next week I'll reintroduce Come Fly With Fish (www.comeflywithfish.com) and hopefully get around to demonstrating how to use household tools to modify a lens hood to make it more effective for packing and travel!

That’s it for this week folks.................have a great weekend, I've got 6,000 miles to go before I get home again Sunday afternoon.

Happy Flying!

18 September 2008

iPhone 'App' Of The Week : TSAwait

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

18/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : TSAwait

Last weeks' iPhone 'App' Of The Week was "FAAwait," I thought it only natural to follow up with the iPhone 'App' TSAwait.

TSAwait is a simple 'App' that lets you check average wait times for more than 600 security check point, at more than 400 commercial airports in the United States. The information on Transportation Security Administration (TSA) airport security check point times is updated typically more than once a week based on average wait time statistics, and I have found it quite accurate the majority of the time (there is no accounting for certain occurrences that slow everything down).

Using TSAwait is simple, once you launch the 'App' you can click "Update" to see if new statistics have been loaded, or click "Access" to begin searching the airports. Airports are broken down by terminal or security check point making it extremely easy to get an accurate view of your estimated wait time at a given security entrance point.

If you know your airport's code you can enter the three-letter airport code (ie: SFO = San Francisco Int'l Airport, HVN = New Haven, CT, Tweed Airport), or you can search for your airport by state code (ie: NY = New York, WY = Wyoming).

TSAwait is a handy tool to guess how much time you need to allow yourself to get to the airport and get through security to catch your flight. There are other 'Apps' that have airport security wait times, but I have found TSAwait to be the most user friendly, and currently the most frequently updated.

TSAwait will cost you a whopping US$0.99, but for those of you who don't want to break the bank you can also download TSAwait Lite....... that will give you access to 50 random U.S. airports, none of which may be of any help to you.

Below are six screen shots of TSAwait on my iPhone

Happy Flying!
--Click Images To Enlarge--

17 September 2008

Round-the-World Photo Workshop : Reintroduced All For Less Than Flying From New York-to-Sydney In Business Class!

Web: www.comeflywithfish.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

17/09/2008 – Round-the-World Photo Workshop : Reintroduced All For Less Than Flying From New York-to-Sydney In Business Class!

Earlier this year I was forced to delay the No Jet Lag Round-the-World Workshop due to some health concerns and the increasing instability of the airline industry. Now, with significant research, a little retooling, and a clean bill of health, I am reintroducing the Round-the-World Workshop!

Interested in traveling around The World in International Business Class, shooting photos in 7 countries, on four continents, for less than the cost of a business class seat between New York-and-Sydney? Then keep reading!

The world awaits outside your door as foreign countries and distant continents beckon you to explore them at breakneck speeds. You'll spend one day shooting in winter and the next day soaking up the summer before heading back to shooting in the cold of the winter. Do you crave the challenges and adventure of traveling and creating photographs on four continents, a subcontinent, seven countries and eight world class cities in 10 days?

The Flying With Fish Round-the-World No Jet Lag Workshop is less workshop and more intensive hands-on boot camp, out in The World, learning effective skills to travel as a photographer.

You will be motivated and energized to face real constraints and produce assigned images as you crisscross hemispheres, straddle the international dateline and cross every single timezone on the planet. Moving from city to city around the world, you will overcome exhaustion and learn to rapidly assess your surroundings and handle changing situations and environments to produce assignments.

Producing images in foreign lands can be challenging when you are rested and have had time to walk around and carefully choose your shots. Working tired and under the looming pressure of missing an international flight is never an ideal situation. The skills you'll learn during this No Jet Lag Workshop, however, will teach you to rapidly overcome weather, cultural, language, and logistical obstacles to produce your images. A whole new world of creativity will unfold for you in front of your lens as you learn these skills.

Who would benefit from this adventurous workshop? Anyone who travels with their camera equipment. Anyone who wants to push the limits of personal photography and travel skills. The travel and photography logistics skills learned during the No Jet Lag Workshop will offer experienced professional photographers immediate return. The ability to work without any recourse of a second chance is ideal for wedding, editorial and location photographers who work in rapidly changing situations.

Amateur photographers will learn how to push horizons and work in real world assignment and deadline situations. Skills will emerge that will help photographers rapidly assess situations and create formidable images in any given moment and situation rather than in only 'ideal' situations.

The No Jet Lag Workshop will not teach you how to be a travel photographer. There will be no lessons on waiting for the perfect sunset or choosing filters. Lessons are instead focused on taking current photography skills and applying them to enhance the creation of your images under any circumstances.

Lessons will begin before we meet to depart for the first flight. "Fish" will work with each participant personally to help them choose equipment and develop packing techniques. Knowing how to pack is an essential skill for rapid travel. The first, and most important, requirement for the Round-the-World No Jet Lag Workshop is simple: 'you haul it in; you haul it out.' You must pack all your gear, clothing and essentials and carry everything you need on your back while you shoot. For much of the journey, everything you have with you will be on your back as you make your way through a city creating images.

I will work with each participant on creating a safe packing system that reduces the chance of theft while in transit or on the streets.

Everyone's shooting style and gear selection is unique to them; however, it can always be trimmed down to save space and weight. Lens selection can be difficult, but making tough choices saves on space and weight, which is critical when packing for a journey such as the one you'll embark on during the Round-the-World No Jet Lag Workshop.

--When is the journey?

The journey is set to begin at Midnight on the 22nd of February from New York City, returning to New York's JFK at 1:40PM on the 4th of March.

--Where are we going?

During our journey, there will be six known 'destination cities' and two 'hidden cities'. The hidden cities are amazing locations on two different continents! The six destination cities currently (any city may be swapped out for another incredible city due to flight schedules) planned are:
New York
San Francisco

--How are we getting to these cities?

All travel will be flown in International Business Class, including the single U.S. Domestic flight. Your flights on 4-&-5 Star international airlines will allow you to sleep in lay flat seats, experience excellent in-flight service, use in-seat power to charge your batteries, use international business class lounges to shower and enjoy meals.

--Where are we sleeping?

5 of the 10 nights will be spent sleeping at 30,000 feet flying continent-to-continent. The remaining nights will be spent doubling up in tourist-class hotels after a full day of on your feet shooting. One of these hotels will have laundry service to get your clothes washed while you sleep.

--What does this Round-the-World No Jet Lag Workshop cost?

The workshop is currently US$16,000 and is inclusive of all international airline ticket fees and taxes for the 28,000+ miles of flying around the world in International Business Class. Some public transportation will be covered. Hotel costs will be split depending in the number of attendees based on double or triple occupancy.

European Attendees Are Welcome & Will Be Accommodated With A Custom Travel Itinerary To Seamlessly Complete The Entire Round-the-World Workshop With The Group.

A minimum of 3 participants is required for this workshop to take off, with a maximum of 5 seats available.

If you would like to sign up, or have any questions, please e-mail fish@flyingwithfish.com.

Let’s Explore the World!

Using Your Credit Card Internationally : Inform Your Credit Card Company Before You Cross The Border

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

17/09/2008 – Using Your Credit Card Internationally : Inform Your Credit Card Company Before You Cross The Border

Last week my fellow photographer from Canada.....we'll call him "Edgar" (the same one with the Passport issues in this post : 12/03/08 - Keeping Your Passport Current & Paying Attention To Visas) was traveling through Newark Liberty Airport, in New Jersey, only to have his credit card declined multiple times.

"Edgar" knew his credit cards were current, but could not figure out the problem. What was the problem? "Edgar" had left the country without informing his credit card company. Many people travel internationally every day with giving their credit cards a second thought, however many credit card companies require you to inform them of when you're leaving the country to prevent fraudulent use of the card.

Some credit card companies have this policy on new cards, others want to know what countries you'll be in, some just want a simple call and other companies don't care or need to be notified.

If you travel internationally and have a new card,or even an old card that has never left the country, it always a good idea to make sure your credit card company is aware that you'll be using the credit cards internationally.

So before you pack your passport and check your drawers for some clean socks, give a quick call to your credit card company and make sure you're card won't be frozen when you try and use it in a foreign country.

Happy Flying!

16 September 2008

Packing Your Cameras & Lenses Properly : Do Not Attach Your Camera & Lens

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

16/09/2008 – Packing Your Cameras & Lenses Properly : Do Not Attach Your Camera & Lens

For some reason photographers like to pack their lenses attached to their camera bodies. For some even stranger reason photographers seem to pack their longer, heavier, lenses attached to their camera bodies. Why do photographers pack this way? I have no idea.

When you pack your equipment you should think of Sir Isaac Newton and his theory that an object in motion will remain in motion until something stops the motion. Another way to look at this is that that a force of impact on your camera will need to dissipate that force.

Newton's theory looks something like this:

So what does this mean for photographers when they pack their 70-200f2.8 attached to their Nikon D700 body? It means that if your bag should sustain an impact the force through your camera, or through your lens, will transfer from one object to the next, often damaging the weakest link. What is usually the weakest link between a camera and a lens? The mount!

If your bag is dropped, knocked, hit, or otherwise 'whacked' your camera body can be spun one way while your lens is spun another way. The result of this impact is you torquing the two mounts significantly damaging both your camera and your lens.

If you pack your body and your lens separately the twisting motion of the camera body and the lens are only felt by the body and the lens individually. The impact dissipates into the padding of the bag. Since neither your camera body or your lens is attached to the bag there is no damage to either the camera or the lens.

I have heard many photographers say, "If my camera is attached to my lens then I can act faster to capture the photo." I have news for you, if you need to put your backpack down, open the flap and remove your camera and lens kit..........you've already 'missed the moment.'

I have spent years covering news and fast paced situations and I can't think of a single moment where I thought, "if only my camera and lens were attached in my bag I might have captured that image."

Fleeting moments happen non-stop. You'll see photos all day long if you're looking, and if that is your intention you need to travel with your cameras out, on your shoulders, ready to shoot.

When you pack your equipment you need to pack it securely. Pack your gear relatively snug so it does not bounce. You need to maximize your space in small area of a bag, backpack or rolling case.

Not only does traveling with your lens attached to your camera significantly increase the chances of damaging your camera equipment while traveling, but it also decreases your packing flexibility. When you pack your camera body and your lenses detached from each other you increase the space in your bag to pack more effectively. By having each item separate you are no longer packing 'around a camera-lens combo,' you are free to stand lenses up, stack lenses, lay lenses down, adjust the location of our camera body within the bag.

All of these elements make for a safer and more practical way to pack your equipment.

Happy Flying!

15 September 2008

Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Help A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

15/09/2008 – Choosing A Frequent Flyer Program : Help A Photographer Maximize His Miles

Choosing a frequent flyer program can be challenging. There are many factors in choosing the best programs for each individual person. Many infrequent flyers only focus on "If fly airline X and want to earn free flights on airline X." Others focus on upgrades or other perks.

In the scheme of how frequent flyer programs work, and the current devalued state of the programs, sometimes looking at airlines other than the ones you fly may be the best choice. My choices are unconventional, but they allow me to fly who I want while matching my earned miles to a better earnings and rewards scheme.

In this post I am going to let the readers of Flying With Fish voice their collective opinion on choosing a frequent flyer program for a Phoenix based freelance photographer. My buddy Mark Rebilas is looking for a new home to park his miles.

While Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) is a major hub for US Airways, the current value of the US Airways' Dividend Miles program is not a viable program for most flyers. There is the obvious answer of putting Mark's miles and segments into United's Mileage Plus program, but are there better Star Alliance options than United for Mark's needs? Mark also uses Southwest Airlines for some routes, and has been adding some miles to the Delta SkyMiles program.

In an effort to maximize Mark's travel experience, as primarily an editorial sports photographer, I'd like to see him get more for his 'Butt-in-Seat' (BIS) experience. Flying approximately 90,000 miles a year, with an average of 60 segments per year, he is more likely to get more for his miles than his segments, which still leaves this question..........

What is the best program for Mark?

I know what my answers for Mark are, but I would love it if the readers of Flying With Fish would voice their opinions! Don't be shy; let me know what you think.

Have an opinion? Either comment here or if you prefer drop me an e-mail at fish@flyingwithfish.com

Need more information on Mark's flying habits? Drop by Mark's blog at www.markjrebilas.com/blog , and drop him an e-mail.

Want to know what my suggestions for Mark are? I won't withhold my answers, but you'll need to check back next week for my detailed response!

Happy Flying!

Music For The Global Traveler

Web: www.thetravelstrategist.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

15/09/2008 – Music For The Global Traveler

At the start of this past summer I wrote about "Six Songs That Remind Me To Go Home." While I love to make my way home, a song I have recently started listening to a song that reminds me, in part, why I like to pack my cameras and head out and circle The Globe.

Alanis Morissette's "Citizen Of The Planet" is a great motivator to get up and travel. The message of the song sets visions into motion that should inspire you to not only start searching for your next flights, but also understand that as a human race we are 'one people.' We rise and fall together as a collective society.

Certain lines in the song are all to familiar for me, but I'll let you decide if the song motivates you the way it motivates me.

Happy Flying!
--Click Image Below To Launch Citizen Of The Planet Video--

12 September 2008

12/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Airline Jargon; Rent Green; Passenger Bill of Rights; Passenger Etiquette; In-Seat Power; FAA Wait; A New Workshop!

Web: www.fishfotoworldwide.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

12/09/2008 – The Weekly Round Up : Airline Jargon 102; Rent Green; Passenger Bill of Rights; Passenger Etiquette; In-Seat Power; FAA Wait & A New Workshop!

This week has been a busy one on Flying With Fish. I somehow managed to post more than one entry a day a few days this week.

I'll kick off the Weekly Round Up introducing you all to a new blog that has been created by the Travel 360 Network, the new blog is TheBestTravelBlogs.com (www.TheBestTravelBlogs.com). The new blog kicked off yesterday, and Flying With Fish was the first blog they chose to write about and highlight. If you any of you know other travel blogs they should write about click the link and send them an e-mail.

So, now onto the week in review.

I'll kick this off with the announcement of a new travel-photography workshop. The Get Up & Fly Workshops are a hands on, in the field, one day marathon workshops. The first two workshops are scheduled on the 7th of November leaving from New York's JFK and the 13th of November leaving from Los Angeles' LAX. For more information on this one of a kind, single day travel photography boot-camp, click here:
10/09/2008 – Get Up & Fly Workshops For Photographers Available Now!

The first entry on Flying With Fish this week was unexpected. I awoke in my hotel room to find a message that the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International organization had highlighted Flying With Fish in their newsletter as a source their members should reference when traveling. To read what WPPI wrote check here:
6/09/2008 – WPPI Highlights Flying With Fish As Resource For Traveling Photogs

This week I followed up on the Airline and Airport Terminology Glossary 101 with a "102" of this Glossary. This entry focuses on acronyms commonly heard in airports or on commercial aircraft. If you want to expand your knowledge of what is being said around you while traveling visit this entry:
8/09/2008 – Airline & Airport Terminology Glossary 102

Airline passengers need a bill of rights! Airlines are often unaccountable for their actions, and Citizens of the United States can urge their Senators to attach a Passengers Bill of Rights to Bill S:1300, the FAA Reauthorization Bill! To find out how you can help get a Passengers Bill of Right Passed click here:
8/09/2008 – U.S. Passengers Bill of Rights : Help Get It Added Onto 'Bill S:1300' Before Sept 15th!

When we travel we often enlarge of carbon foot-print. I have discussed purchasing carbon offsets in past entries, however this week I discussed how you can reduce your carbon foot-print when renting cars on the road. Find out how you can travel in a more 'green friendly' way here:
9/09/2008 – Rent Green : Downgrade Your Rental Car

A frequent topic on Flying With Fish is 'Passenger Etiquette,' this week I discussed 'Public Display of Affection' when locked in a confined space (aircraft) with dozens of strangers for hours at a time. Weigh in on my opinions by reading this post:
10/09/2008 – Passenger Etiquette : Public Display of Affection In Flight

Everyone wants in-seat power when they travel. Even if you want want to work you may want to charge your batteries, watch movies or revive your dead Blackberry. While many airlines are moving to standard 110v/220v outlets, many still offer 'emPower' outlets in their aircraft. To learn more about emPower, what it is and how to use it, this post should answer most of your questions:
11/09/2008 – In-seat Power & emPower Revisited : Working In Flight

I wrapped the week up with my iPhone 'App' of the Week. This week I discussed "FAA Wait," which has become an incredible tool for travel. FAA Wait provides users with real-time FAA delays and ground stops, with detailed information related to delays and ground-stops. To find out why you need to have this iPhone 'App' in your iPhone check here:
11/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : FAA Wait

On a business note, I may begin experimenting with some ads on Flying With Fish in the next week. Flying With Fish up until now has been ad free, however the time it takes to update Flying With Fish, and gather the information is equal to that of a full-time job. I have not decided if I will run ads or not, but if I do they will be as unobtrusive as possible, and the content will always remain free and open to anyone and everyone who can use the information.

I know many seem to think I am getting rich off of Flying With Fish. So far to date I have earned $0.00/€0.00/£0.00 from Flying With Fish. The goal of this site from day one was simple.....help people travel smarter. My goal and intentions have not changed, however I never intended to run a blog that was updated more than once a week.

Have an opinion on this? Drop an e-mail and let me know.

Happy Flying!

11 September 2008

iPhone 'App' Of The Week : FAA Wait

Web: www.fishfoto.com -- E-Mail: fish@flyingwithfish.com

11/09/2008 – iPhone 'App' Of The Week : FAA Wait

Travel can delays can be frustrating, but as a traveler the more information you have the better you are able to adapt your schedule due to possible delays.

For the past month I have been using an iPhone 'App' simply named "FAA Wait." While FAA Wait is not sanctioned by the FAA (US Federal Aviation Administration) the 'App' tracks FAA alerts in real time giving its users a real-time view of airport delays.

Airport delays are broken down into four easy categories to give users a better picture of the type of delay they are facing. The Categories are Ground Delays; Ground Stops; General Delays; Airport Closures.

With each individual airport delay the reason for the delay is clearly stated. If there is a Ground Delay you are not left wondering why, FAA Wait lists delays as "Due to WEATHER : Low Ceiling” or "Due to WEATHER: High winds." General Departure Delays can read "Due to GROUND STOP: Traffic Congestion."

Along with a clear depiction of why there is a delay, the FAA Wait 'App' also states average delay times in real-time with information such as "3 hours 53 minutes" and "40 - 60 minutes (increasing)." "Increasing,” means that the delays are getting longer without a clear estimate when the delay should clear out. Not that I like increased delays, I do like to know an estimate and how accurate that estimate is.

I have found FAA Wait's information extremely helpful when travel to or from an area experiencing severe weather, as well as through airports known for significant delays, such as Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD).

If you travel at all I strongly suggest downloading FAA Wait before setting foot on your next flight.

Below are four screen shots of the FAA Wait 'App" on my iPhone.

Happy Flying!

--Click Images To Enlarge--