A conference named BAcon? Well, you just know it has to be good! Actually, it is GREAT!

BAcon stands for the BoardingArea conference and is the time when Randy Petersen and his House of Miles brings together the bloggers that make up BoardingArea (BA) and the new Prior2Boarding (P2B).


This year’s conference is the second BAcon event. Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay is where the BAcon has been sizzling the past few days. Last year’s very first BAcon Conference was hosted in Randy Petersen’s hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado. BAcon sightings from our first event were recapped here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. This year’s social media hashtag is #BAcon14.

It was exciting to be a part of a growing BoardingArea community this year with many BA and P2B bloggers joining in from around the world.

Randy brought us together to generously give us the knowledge, the tools and the inspiration to better our craft of writing about travel. There are so many aspects to the business of travel writing, that Randy’s motto of “This is just the beginning of the conversation” is so appropriate.

While this conference’s attendance isn’t open to a general travel audience, you, as a reader of Pearls of Travel Wisdom and BoardingArea, were there in spirit as we all focused on how better to serve YOU.

Here are a few behind the scenes events to share the experience with you:

Gary Leff (View from the Wing), along with other bloggers, caught Randy off-guard during his Welcome talk by adding in an ad-hoc agenda item – a Happy Birthday tribute to Randy. While the number of attendees might have rivaled the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, our voices didn’t quite measure up. Nonetheless, the Happy Birthday sung to Randy was certainly very sincere from every one of us. Randy is now figuring out how to get his present (a new saddle) to fit in the carry-on sizer for his flight home. If it wasn’t for the strict union rules in Vegas, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a horse paraded into the conference room to sport the new saddle.


After that, it was serious time for learning, the real reason we traveled from different parts of the world to be at BAcon. Our first session was a media roundtable with Scott Mayerowitz (AP), Ben Mutzabaugh (USAToday), and Tyler Dikman (LoungeBuddy).


This was followed by an excellent panel discussion led by Anthony Black and Michael Pool (Delta Air Lines) as well as Michael Marino (Caesars TotalRewards). An amazing line-up of experts, all generously sharing ways we can improve our craft and work together.

BAcon days are very long though all good travelers know how to make time for some fun, too. Our evening social hour, sponsored by GoGo Inflight, gave us much appreciated time to interact with other bloggers, especially the newer ones whom we had not met last year.

Just for fun, GoGo threw in another thrill. For all who were interested, GoGo invited each of us to enjoy the new High Roller, the world’s tallest observation Ferris wheel. It is a must-see if you enjoy looking out over the Las Vegas Strip from 550 feet up.


We begin early, we end late, but everything in between is non-stop. We spend the day working diligently to become better bloggers because in the end, this is about our readers, not us. Randy and his team make a huge commitment to help each and every one of us build our brands, better our skills and serve us.

My goal is to do the same for you. How can I better help you be a productive, safe and confident traveler?

This is just the start of the conversation.

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

The other day I was sitting in the waiting area at the airport. The plane had just arrived so we had to wait for everyone to deplane, then get the fresh crew onboard, clean the aircraft, etc.

I happened to be sitting next to a deadheading pilot who asked me how much I fly. Well, I told him how many miles I fly so I was curious how many he flies in a year. Funny, he had no idea because crews measure their performance based on hours, not miles.

That got me wondering: just how many hours do I fly each year?

Enjoying the flightI know everyone will have different results but here are mine as a baseline. Just looking at the current year, I have 86,904 status miles for the first eight months. Note that some of this is skewed because sometimes I have the fortune to fly up front on international flights. In other words, I earn bonus miles which help me to hit my elite status sooner than some others but it does not include any credit card miles or rollover or anything like that.

I measured my flight time based on the schedule, not wheels up/down. I did not include the typical 30+ minutes for early boarding even though I tend to do that. In my case, it worked out to 212 hours. Annualized, this would be about 300 hours per year, though it will pick up for me in the last four months with more international travel. Wow, only about 25 hours a month in the air. It sure seems like much more.

So how does this compare to pilots and flight attendants? More than some, less than others. But now I have at least a rough idea how many hours I fly each year. It has me curious enough that I will calculate this again at the end of the year and do the same for next year to see if there are any significant changes. Last year the majority of my travel was international; this year only partly so.

Of course there are many travel hours not included in flying time. They are the hours set aside for things such as packing, getting to the airport, parking or picking up/returning a rental car, maybe checking a bag, getting through security, hiking to the gate, often sitting around because of flight delays, driving to a hotel, checking in, and finally getting to a room to get unpacked. And then there are the connecting flights which require more hiking through airports, often with long layovers.

The travel hours beyond the flight times account for hundreds of hours each year but I wanted to compare their flying to mine as close as possible. Nevertheless, the flying portion of traveling is less than half of the time required for all the travel.

And of course, flight crews require additional time as well. They have briefings, walkarounds, and getting the cabins ready for the following flight. But at least now I have an idea how I size up against flight crews.

So how about you, how many hours do you fly each year?

Posted by Carol Margolis | One Comment

Here are several contests that offer travel winnings. Good luck!


Win a Trip to the US Open Finals

For you tennis fans, LG is giving away some prizes to celebrate the U.S. Open. Runner up prizes include new phones and 55″ TVs, but the grand prize includes roundtrip airfare for two to New York, 3 nights hotel accommodations, and $1,000 gift card.

Contest ends Aug 25

Countdown to South America: Destination Cartagena

The LATAM and LAN Airlines want to send you and a friend down Columbia way. Grand prize for this sweepstakes includes two roundtrip tickets from MIA to Cartagena, Columbia and three nights at the Casa San Agustin Hotel.

Contest ends Sept 4

Margaritaville Summer Trip

Want to get away for one last trip before the cold weather comes in? Margaritaville is sending one lucky winner and a friend to Key West, covering the roundtrip airfare and 3 nights at the Key West Marriott Beachside.

Contest ends Aug 25

Read More…

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Long gone are the days when I traveled with one credit card, my AT&T calling card, Continental, United and Best Western’s paper membership program cards. Laptops didn’t exist. Heck, the internet was just a baby. Cell phones were just starting to come out in their 5-pound brick sizes and my suitcase was labelled with two ‘heavy’ tags. Yes, things have changed since the days of my double-heavy.

I’m now a much smarter packer. No need to bring along my own hair rollers, hair dryer, alarm clock, travel iron and hot pot for making coffee in my motel rooms. Jeez, no wonder my bag was a double-heavy!

Getting an upgrade meant I got a room on the first floor of the motel instead of having to lug the double-heavy up the outside stairs to the end of the exterior hall in the winter. Today I know the first floor of an exterior room isn’t smart as far as safety. Back then I didn’t give a darn about safety – it was all about getting me and my stuff into the room with the least amount of effort. Being parked close to my rental car was the goal, especially since many of my earlier years of travel were spent in Canada and the northern states of the U.S. where snow often hid the windshield of my car. Read More…

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Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

Airplanes Around Thunderstorms

A few nights ago at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, a thunderstorm rolled in causing many planes to be rerouted. Watch this video to see how the air traffic controllers kept all of the incoming flights out of harms way.

Airfare Watchdog’s Best U.S. Airlines for 2014

We all have our favorite airline, or at least a preferred airline where most of our miles reside, but which airline is the best? For the third year, Airfare Watchdog has tried to find an answer, using criteria such as number of cancelled flights, on-time arrivals, customer satisfaction, and more. They present their findings for each category, as well as announce an overall winner for “Best U.S. Airline for 2014”. Did your favorite make the list?

Read More…

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I was asked by CNN International on ways to reduce the stress of business travel. Whether you travel for business, pleasure or both, stress can come into play from the minute you start planning to when you walk back in the door at the end of a trip.  (Ever get home to a house which is messier than when you left? See what I mean!)

While I have tons of tips on how to reduce the stress in the myriad of areas involved in travel, there are really two tips that I have found most impactful over my years of travel. (1) Look at each trip as an adventure (yes, even a business trip!) and (2) Be nice!

I have found these two core principles to be the reason why I can answer “very few” when asked how many travel horror stories I have.

For example, I have had numerous cancelled flights, both in transit and on my way home. I have missed important events, lost revenue and incurred significant expenses. But to stand screaming at the airline gate agent when a flight is cancelled due to weather or a mechanical delay doesn’t do anything but raise your blood pressure – and possibly get you to the bottom of the list when it comes to the agent looking for the next available seat for you.

Instead, take things one step at a time and keep calm.  Step 1: Get in line with the hundreds of other passengers waiting for rebooking – immediately Step 2: Get on the phone with the airline (yes, while you’re standing in line) and ask for their help in rebooking you. This is kind of like having a foot in two different grocery store checkout lanes and you select the one that becomes available first. Step 3: Be friendly to the agent helping you, whether they’re on the phone or in person. Good words to ask are “If you were in my shoes, what would you do?” Great advice is often offered with this simple question.  When you treat the agent like an ally, it’s amazing what good comes out of it.

The same goes for hotel front desk clerks and maids, restaurant staff and literally everyone you meet along the way. A smile goes such a long way and has even unexpectedly rewarded me with extra chocolates on my pillow (my husband loves when these make it home!), upgraded rooms, wine and snacks sent to my room, first class flight and car rental upgrades and more – and most importantly really enriches my travel experiences.

The Foreword of my book, Business Travel Success: How to Reduce Stress, Be More Productive and Travel with Confidence contains a powerful story that conveys this same message. If you have ever been in a gate area when a flight delay was announced (really, who hasn’t been??) you will feel the power of nice in this Foreword by Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.


Posted by Carol Margolis | One Comment

Here are several contests that offer travel winnings. Good luck!

Regal Princess Inaugural Sweepstakes

Princess Cruises are sending a new ship out to see, The Regal Princess, and they want to send you and a guest on the inaugural voyage. Grand prize includes airfare to Ft. Lauderdale, tickets to the official naming ceremony, and one balcony stateroom aboard the Regal Princess on her first cruise to the Bahamas.

Contest ends August 31

My Destination Story Contest

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts want to hear your stories about your favorite hidden gems, off-the-beaten-path experiences, and travel adventures. Put together a 90 second video showcasing your travel tale, and enter for a chance to win the grand prize of a 7 day trip to a destination of your choosing (in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or Barbados). They are giving away a lot of other prizes, and you don’t necessarily need to submit a video to enter. Make sure to read the official rules.

Contest ends Sept 14 Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.

United Letter

United Airlines sends boiler plate apology letter to passenger and forgets to fill in the blanks

United Airlines may have recently sent out their usual apology letter to a customer without putting in the details. Although unconfirmed by the airline, the (NONSPECIFIC) letter has made its way around the internet as a textbook example of bad customer service.

Airlines Waive Fees for Changing Tickets to Hawaii as Storms Approach

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio are on their way towards the Hawaiian Islands, and if their plans are interrupting your plans to visit our 50th state, no worries – the airlines have you covered. This Mashable article has a good rundown on what specific airlines are doing to accommodate passengers who have scheduled flights in the next few days. As always, it’s a good idea to call the airline yourself to reschedule.

Testy Exchange Between Delta Pilot and Air Traffic Controller

We all get a little stressed at work, but it’s never a good idea to take it out on others. In this captured audio from the ATL runway, a pilot demonstrates the incorrect way to start your day.

United Airlines adds passport scanning to its mobile app

United Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to check-in for their international flights early by scanning their passports. United’s iOS and Android apps can now scan your document (and save it for future trips), allowing you to get your international boarding passes up to 24 hours before your trip. If your travels require a visa to enter the country, you will still need to present those at the airport.

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

Here are some articles and links from around the travel world that came across my desk this week. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments, post them on our Facebook page or send them my way on Twitter.


Travel scams to watch out for this summer

Travelers are often easy targets for thieves and con artists. You can easily let your guard down when you visit a foreign country, but Just The Flight put together this infographic to make sure you don’t become another statistic. Take a minute to go over the common scams that target tourists and which country they occur in.

Family Asked To Leave Southwest Flight After Tweet

Can a tweet get you kicked off of a plane? It just happened to this Minneapolis family. After a disagreement with the gate agent, Duff Watson took to Twitter to complain about how he was being treated by the Southwest employee. After boarding, they were asked to leave the plane and not allowed back on until the father deleted the tweet. The airline has since apologized for the incident.

America’s airlines are the world’s most profitable and least comfortable

If you travel frequently on both domestic and international flights, this should be of no surprise to you. U.S. based airlines are squeezing the most out of their passengers with baggage fees and seat upgrades, but are far behind the other world’s commercial airlines in terms of comfort. In the rankings of the Top 10 Airline Seats, no American airline appeared in any of the categories (Economy, Premium Economy, or Business Class).

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

Reporter stopped by TSA agent who didn’t know District of Columbia is in US

Right at my home airport MCO, a resident of the District of Columbia (the seat of our national government) was asked for his passport. Why? The TSA agent did not recognize his Washington D.C. license, and was unaware that it was a place. It’s not the first time the TSA has run in to this problem, but some light is being shed on the subject because it happened to a reporter. The TSA has since confirmed that yes, D.C. driver’s licenses are valid forms of ID.

Fake TSA screener probes passnegers at SFO

In a bizarre situation, a drunk 53 year old San Francisco man allegedly posed as a TSA agent and directed two women to private booths to be pat down. Authorities quickly discovered the ruse and arrested the man, who was on his way to board a flight to Hong Kong.

Consumers, airlines oppose TSA fee hike

In an effort to pay down the deficit, Congress has approved an increase in TSA fee hikes that will bring in billions over the next few years, but both consumers and airlines are not happy about the changes. Those who oppose the increase, which goes into effect next month, say that the government is treating them like a bottomless piggy bank.

Boeing Preps the 787-9 Dreamliner for Farnborough

The Farnborough Air Show is going on this week in England. In a sneak peek of what is to come, Boeing released this video of a Dreamliner being put through it’s paces.

Posted by Carol Margolis | No Comments

Here are several contests that offer travel winnings. Good luck!

Win a Year of Travel with Coca-Cola

How would you like to win free airfare for a year? Coca-Cola, Cinemark, and Southwest have teamed up to give you the chance to win 24 round-trip tickets to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies. The tickets expire on December 31st, 2015, but I can think of enough places to visit between now and then.

Contest ends July 24

Show us your #AirportHugs for a chance to win!

CheapFlights.com wants to see your airport hug photos. Take a photo of you and your loved ones saying hello or goodbye and share them on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AirportHugs. One lucky photo will be chosen and the winner will receive a new iPad Mini. Make sure to tag CheapFlights on Twitter & Instagram.

Contest ends July 21

5-Star International Flights from Miami

Qatar Airways has started flying international routes out of MIA, and to celebrate Read More…

Posted by Carol Margolis | 2 Comments

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