Forms of identification: George Hobica
George Hobica flying in British Airways first class last year.
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
1. Where would you rather be right now?
Right now I'm on a United Airlines flight between LA and New York. I'd rather be home.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
I'm fascinated by travel industry service and how great service is achieved. So I'd like to sit next to Isadore Sharp, founder of Four Seasons Hotels.
3. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
Actually, most must-sees really are must-sees. In fact, I think too many people eschew so-called "tourist traps" like the Tower of London or the Eiffel Tower and miss out. Their loss. Just go in the off season or early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
4. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
I've seen almost everywhere I want to see, and now I'm in the mode of just going back to the places I really love over and over. I'd like to take cruise through the Norwegian Fjords.
5. Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
I was flying into London on Virgin Atlantic. I put my passport in the seatback pocket sometime during the flight. It vanished! I panicked as we landed at Heathrow, certain that it was in there somewhere but I couldn't find it. Would I be turned away at passport control? How would I get home? Two days later the passport, which had traveled back to Miami and who knows where, was delivered to my hotel. Passport at Heathrow let me in without a problem.
6. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit next to while travelling:
I usually don't end up talking to people when I fly, mostly their choice not mine. I did sit next to David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue, who famously has a rather pronounced case of attention deficit disorder. It was on full view during our flight.
7. If someone was visiting your town, what’s the one thing you’d show them?
I'd probably take them for the full cruise on the Circle Line, which circumnavigates the island of Manhattan.
8. Travel-related invention you wish existed:
World-wide, works-anywhere wi-fi.
9. Your most embarrassing travel faux pas:
Probably losing or forgetting things. I've lost my wallet, my passport, my iPad, you name it.
10. Most unique souvenir:
Before founding airfarewatchdog.com, I was a full time travel writer and did a lot of sponsored media trips. One such trip was to Bangkok and I stayed at the Oriental Hotel with a bunch of older, very grumpy travel writers who should have stayed home. As I was checking out of the hotel, my floor butler presented me with a hand written note and a small gift -- a pair of silk shoe bags, a gesture which I assumed he was put up to by management. On the way to the airport in the hotel limo, I asked the grumpy writers if they liked their gift. "What gift!?" one of them barked. That was 20 years ago and I still have the shoe bags.
11. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
The Sultan of Brunei, on one of those Concorde flights. Apparently his 747 was in the shop or maybe he just wanted to fly Concorde.
12. Most unusual item you have travelled with:
Not unusual perhaps, but I never go anywhere without my own pillow.
13. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
Definitely the Concorde, back in the day. Both times I was upgraded from business class on British Airways because my subsonic flight was canceled. One time it was on April Fools Day, and everyone who came into the lounge and was told they were flying Concorde thought it was an April Fools’ prank.
14. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but are willing to divulge here:
Not a place but a sort-of secret. Virgin America Airways will let you upgrade to their fantabulous first class from any economy class fare four hours before flight time on a first come basis for incredibly low prices. I really, really don't want anyone to know this because I will screw myself out of a seat next time I fly them.
15. Travel-related film or book that inspires you to pack your bags:
I love Lost in Translation, the Sophia Coppola film. In fact, I stayed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the principal setting for the film, earlier this year and was there for the epic Tokyo earthquake. Even more exciting in my 47th-floor room.
16. The travel story you’ll never stop bragging about:
Lately it's that I got a British Airways credit card with 100,000 bonus miles plus a free voucher for a frequent flyer companion ticket. So I'm flying to London in September in first class with my significant other basically for free.
17. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or wisdom:
Always be super nice to flight attendants and they'll be nice to you. At the very least you'll get a bottle of wine (I got one on my last two United flights) or maybe those little plastic pilot’s wing pin things with the airlines' logo. And it doesn't hurt to dress respectfully when you fly. As I write this from my United Airlines flight I'm sitting in first class but I bought an economy class ticket. Why did they upgrade me? No, they don't know I'm the founding father of airfarewatchdog.com (we're not that famous). Could it have been my nice white shirt, red and blue rep tie, and snazzy Emporio Armani suit? Who knows, I didn't ask.