Archive for the ‘General Travel’ Category

Roommates From Heck

December 31, 2011 3 comments
Fawlty Towers Hotel Pensione Sign

Sadly, there was no rude, short-fused proprietor here to put obnoxious guests in their place

The worst thing about staying in a hostel dormitory is that you have absolutely no control over who sleeps in the room with you. Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself sharing with friendly, interesting, considerate people who make your stay enjoyable; other times, it’s only the memory of the foreign prison in Midnight Express that stops you from strangling all of your roommates in their sleep. Although none of the people described below are offensive enough to receive the noteworthy distinction of “Roommate From Hell”, they’re all irritating enough to make it on to a list of commonly encountered pains-in-my-ass I’ve dubbed “Roommates From Heck”. On the off chance anyone reading this falls into one of the categories listed, I’ve included a personal message to let you know precisely how I feel about your behaviour.


Anti-Soap Guy

I understand that sometimes, after travelling for months on end, social niceties like personal hygenie can become a chore. If, however, you make the decision to avoid washing for your entire trip, you forfeit the right to complain when I open a window for air, no matter how hot or cold it is outside.

Light-Switch Guy 

While I have no problem with my roommates going out and returning to the hostel at four in the morning per se (traveling is supposed to be fun, after all), I do believe that anyone incapable of making their way from the door to their bunk, without turning on every light in the room, SHOULD BUY A GODDAMNED TORCH.

One Hundred Decibel Guy

Yes, I’m aware that your non-stop, jackhammer snoring is an involuntary act that occurs while you’re asleep, but I plan to claim the same defence in court after I smother you with a pillow in the middle of the night.

“I Just Scored” Guy (and Friend)

I’m not sure if you realise, but when someone tells you to “get a room”, they generally mean a private room…we don’t need to hear whatever it is you’re doing over there.

Noxious Gas Guy

While having twelve guys sleeping in the one room makes it possible to silently pass wind with little to no chance of being blamed, it’s still considered socially unacceptable to inflict that kind of respiratory distress upon your roommates.

“Why Carry a Backpack When I Can Use Plastic Shopping Bags?” Guy

What’s that you say? This doesn’t sound too bad? Well, just wait until it’s 5:00 AM and I start shoving my stuff into plastic bags two feet from your ear, then you can tell me how f**cking bad you think it sounds.

Too Much Information Guy

Seriously dude, put some pants on.

Stay tuned for further installments of this list…it’s guaranteed to grow the instant I set foot in another hostel dorm room.


Travel Advice the Government Doesn’t Put on Their Smartraveller Website (but Probably Should) – Volume 1

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

This has been a warning from

Always check your flight details very carefully.

When you purchase your ticket, it suggests this in the provided documentation…and you know what? It’s a really good idea. If you dont look at your itinerary closely, you could find yourself doing something remarkably stupid…like turning up for your 3:30 p.m. flight and finding out it actually departed, as scheduled, twelve hours earlier at 3:30 a.m.

Now, I’m not suggesting for one moment that I would be dumb enough to do something like this, but I thought it would be worthwhile presenting the advice here – you know, as a kind of community service announcement – because it would concern me greatly if any of you ever did something this foolish.

PS: When this…er…I mean, if this were, hypothetically, to happen, I’d advise doing it on a day when the last-minute cancellation of a fully booked flight from the same airline causes complete airport meltdown. This will increase the likelihood of the overly-stressed staff at the ticket counter transferring you on to the next flight without the usual fees and and charges, simply to get you out of their hair.

PPS: If I were ever to do this, I would defend the argument that airline departure schedules are almost always listed in 24-hour time, with the counter-argument that when one sees 3:30 on the flight schedule, the absurd possibility that anyone, anywhere could actually deem 3:30 a.m. a suitable time to schedule a flight does not immediately come to mind.

Categories: General Travel Tags: ,

Flight to Nowhere

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The proposed new company logo

Even if I were to travel by plane every day for the next fifty years, I don’t believe I could ever find an airline less competent in every aspect of air travel than Austrian Airlines.

While most people who do a reasonabIe amount of travelling will have an airline horror story of some description, I doubt that even the permanently-banned carriers from Central Africa – most of which consider the phrase “acceptable service” to include anything that doesn’t immediately result in the plane going into a flaming death spiral – could come close to reaching the level of customer dissatisfaction achieved by this, ahem, organisation.

To ensure trainee staff can continue the airline’s fine tradition of awful service for many years to come, I have helpfully compiled the following ten-step policy manual for them. I hereby present:

The Austrian Airlines Guide to Exceptional* Customer Service

*Exceptionally bad

1) Ensure that the sole morning flight out of the UK is scheduled at such an absurd time that the only way customers can be at the check-in desk at the required time is to either sleep on the airport floor or take out a small mortgage allowing them to catch a London cab across the city at 3 a.m.

2) Do not begin the check-in procedure until an hour-and-a-half after the advertised time or the queue exceeds three-hundred people, whichever is later. Feel free to wait for both to occur if you feel passengers have not yet had enough time to mingle.

3) As customers will most likely doze off during the excessive wait, do not under any circumstances disturb them with announcements about when you actually plan to start checking them in.

4) When you do finally decide to begin the procedure, make a last minute PA announcement stating that all customers must now be checked in at the desks on the opposite side of the building to that previously stated. When everybody turns around to face the other direction, the people originally at the front of the queue will be able to entertain themselves with amusing observations about how they have spent two hours waiting to reach the back of the line.

5) Ensure the queue is structured in such a way that it blocks the main door to the check-in area. This will allow people who turn up late to merge straight into the centre of the queue, rather than further delaying them by making them go to the back of the line.

6) Help keep associated costs down (thus reducing ticket prices) by ensuring the passenger-to-staff ratio never falls below two hundred to one.

7) When selling tickets, don’t be afraid to overbook the plane by at least twenty seats. If all other procedures have been followed, the only passengers to get bumped off the flight will be those who have been standing in the queue for three hours already, a clear indication they’re not in a hurry to go anywhere.

8) When you find yourself with more bumped passengers than you know what to do with, direct them to the Lufthansa desk to arrange replacement flights. This way they may actually be able to receive decent customer service at least once during the day.

9) Aim to have the entire, worldwide chain of Austrian Airlines offices open for a sum total of twelve minutes a week.  This will present disgruntled customers with an enjoyable challenge when attempting to claim the mandatory compensation you are required to provide for bumping them off the flight.

10) Finally, but most importantly, under no circumstances are you to appear as though you have the slightest concern about what happens to the customers you have just spent the entire morning pissing off.

Note: A more thorough Austrian Airlines customer service guide is available in bookstores. Look for it in the Religion section, under the title, “The Satanic Bible”.

Categories: General Travel Tags: ,