Tag Archives: featured

Airline stocks plunge as Greyhound hints at flying buses


Airline stocks plunged today following word that Greyhound Bus Lines may be expanding its operations to include an airline that would allow people to fly for considerably less than even the lowest current fares, while still expecting about the same level of cleanliness in the lavatories.

The 104-year-old inter-city transportation company, whose sleek canine logo was once so synonymous with long-distance travel that a Greyhound journey is still often known as Riding the Dog, is, according to rumor, basing its strategy on a new level of service known as Kennel Class.

“Apparently, the idea is to throw passengers a bone by offering them 10 % off everybody else’s lowest fare, then packing them in so tight that about the only thing they can do for entertainment is lick their private parts,” said airline industry analyst Bob Payne.

Of course cramming more passengers aboard is not exactly a new airline revenue model. It’s no doubt the reason many critics didn’t pay much attention to the Wright Brothers until they had a two-seater. But according to Payne some of Greyhound’s other, more creative, cost-saving measures are what have the airline industry so worried.

“Requiring flight crews to work for tips. Offering onboard meals only by takeout from Carl’s Jr. restaurants. Buying aviation fuel from Sam’s Club. These are the kinds of innovations the airlines may be kicking themselves about for not thinking of first,” Payne said.

Despite the stock dip, everything to this point is speculative, with no word at all coming from Greyhound, except to say that bus travel remains the greenest way to get around. However, Payne considers it significant that aircraft manufacturer Airbus seems to be busy at the drawing board with a new version of its A380, which is alleged to be identical to the current model, except that the tail wags.

When not serving as an airline industry analyst for some of America’s major bus companies, Bob Payne is the editor in chief atBobCarriesOn.com, the travel humor website that has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock. 

SurClaro.com Photo


All-inclusive destination wedding resort provides spouse

The all-inclusive destination wedding resort Shackles has begun offering a spouse to would-be brides or grooms who wish for their nuptials to be absolutely stress free.

“As guests have often told us, the most time-consuming chore of any destination wedding is finding a spouse in the first place,” said Shackles Chief Commitment Officer, Bob Payne.

So the popular Caribbean resort, which already prided itself on choosing menus, flowers, music, and which supposedly secret former flames to sit most humiliatingly distant from the newlywed’s table, added the ultimate destination-wedding inclusion.

“You would not believe how much the tension level drops at one of these events, “ Payne said, “Sometimes to the point that we make it through an entire reception without a mother in law saying something she will later regret.”

Payne said the spouses are selected from among previous guests who have recently attended other destination weddings at Shackles, as they are often still suitably dressed for the ceremony and are fuzzy on matrimonial, or any other, laws that might apply.

“We’ve had excellent success with the program so far,” Payne said, “just once accidentally marrying off one of our assistant managers, who only occasionally still sends us beseeching e-mails.”

The World’s Best Hotels That Let Me Stay for Free — Hacienda Del Sol — Tucson, AZ

Have you ever read a travel story and wondered if the author was getting a free room in exchange for writing such a glowing review? In my new series, “The World’s Best Hotels That Let Me Stay For Free,” you needn’t wonder any longer.

Each story is carefully crafted to reflect that no matter what the experience, I know which side my toast – which often accompanies the (hopefully) included breakfast — is buttered on.

The idea for the series came to me after I got an email from a lovely woman who does public relations for the Hacienda Del Sol, an historic jewel of a ranch-style luxury resort in the foothills north of Tucson, Arizona, which, according to Travel + Leisure magazine, is one of America’s most underrated cities.

“I was meandering through travel blogs as I often do,” the lovely woman said, “and found BobCarriesOn.com. Now I am recovering from a full-on case of giggles after reading about animals on airplanes [including members of certain college fraternities] and telling kids that there is no luggage heaven.

“If you are looking for an excursion close to home [I live in Scottsdale, AZ] but away from the ‘run of the mill,’ please let me know. I would love to have you check in and check out my client, the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. Hopefully, you won’t find too much humorous about it.”

An award-winning member of the Historic Hotels of America, the 59-room property, on 34 secluded acres, has a Spanish Colonial style of architecture that gives it the feel of a traditional Mexican village, except that no one is trying to sell you Chiclets, Viagra, or plastic surgery.

Opening in 1929 as an exclusive boarding school, Hacienda Del Sol provided an excellent education for the daughter’s of some of America’s wealthiest families. How excellent is suggested by the school’s 1938 yearbook, in which it is noted that among the gifts graduating seniors left to their younger classmates were “A collection of lipsticks to Betty,” and “a raft of men to Jennnie.”

In 1944, the school was transformed into a guest ranch that proved popular with Hollywood celebrities, among them John Wayne, Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Nostalgia buffs can even stay in the same accommodation, the Casita Grande, whose privacy Hepburn and Tracy appreciated when they were hiding out from his wife.

After decades of neglect and disrepair, the Hacienda Del Sol was given a new life in 1995 when it reopened under the ownership and management of a local group of investors who have lovingly upgraded it to a luxury resort, most recently adding 32 rooms, some looking out on that most Southwestern of icons, a golf course.

Resort amenities include two pools (one with a mosaic on the bottom of a presumably drowned cowboy and his horse), a delightfully cozy spa, a riding stable, a fitness center, and a botanical garden, among which are scattered forty works of outdoor art. Ten of the works are by one of the property’s owners, who, it might be helpful to note, is by profession a realtor.

The Hacienda Del Sol’s two dining rooms and award-winning culinary team – along with the new 5,100 square foot Casa Luna Ballroom — make it an ideal venue for all types of events and celebrations, including wedding receptions, occasionally highlighted by having drinks packed in by donkey, which after a few prickly pear margaritas, won’t seem too humorous.

When BobCarriesOn Editor in Chief Bob Payne is not staying at a hotel for free he often pays for it. 

Mount Everest named world’s top place to visit

For the 156th consecutive year, the World Tourism Federation (WTF) has named Mount Everest the world’s top place to visit.

“Many tourism sites and attractions claim to be among the world’s best, but only Mount Everest, at 29,028 feet, can claim to top them all,” said WTF spokesperson Bob Payne.

In addition to its altitude, a number of other factors have helped Everest win the prestigious award so consistently, Payne said.

Among the factors are:

Except during the April and May climbing season, when the line at the Everest Base Camp Starbucks can stretch out the door, crowds are seldom a problem. And to escape them even in season it is often necessary only to climb above 26,000 feet, into what is helpfully described as the Death Zone.

Spring and Fall are the most popular times to visit, but in November through February cooling breezes of up to 200 mph make Everest an offseason-delight for all who are willing to hold on.

No matter what the season, inexpensive parking is always available, as is accommodation, although the best of the accommodation, with some of the most awesome rooms-with-a-view on the planet, requires hanging tethered to a sheer rock face.

“It’s not as precarious as it might sound,” said Payne, “Although local outfitters don’t recommend it for older men who need to get up frequently during the night.”

Local sites of interest include the last resting places, or assumed last resting places, of the more than 200 deceased climbers whose bodies still remain on the mountain.

For visitors looking for activities other than climbing, Wildlife viewing includes up to ten species of ants, and the occasional yak, which are best admired from the uphill side.

The local people are another Everest draw. For a suitable tip, they are often happy to help you get all the way to the top, and, for an even more suitable tip, back down again.

Travel humor writer Bob Payne  is an enthusiastic social climber.  


How many of these authentic travel experiences have you tried?

In the luxury travel universe, much is made these days of seeking authentic travel experiences. These seem to be experiences for which you pay so much money that bemused locals are happy to indulge your fantasy that you are “not a tourist, but a traveler.”

Coveted authentic travel experiences include sharing a glass of the latest vintage with a fifth-generation vineyard owner, stepping aboard a private mega-yacht in full view of a busload of envious cruise ship passengers who wonder who you are, and sitting at a tool-ladened workbench with a local artisan (whose day job is painstakingly affixing “Souvenir of …” labels to silver spoons imported from China).

The truth, though, is that authentic travel experiences are nearly universal, often occurring even before you arrive at your destination. Here are a few:

The only notification of your delayed or cancelled flight is written on the wall of the terminal bathroom.

You request early boarding, as your prosthesis entitles you to do, and the airline charges for extra-leg room.

The flight attendant assures you that the snake loose in the overhead bin is not venomous.

The tattoo on the passenger sharing your armrest identifies him as an arm-wrestling champion.

Your young children have to coax you to eat your airline meal.

Your rental car GPS speaks to you in a rude tone of voice.

The desk clerk has the serene demeanor of someone who knows that the big-tipping guests who arrived just before you are happily settling into the room that was meant to be yours.

Your hotel room’s “ocean view” requires an optional telescope.

Your tour guide speaks clear, understandable English, loud enough for you to hear, but you are on the wrong bus.

The person floundering in the wake of your cruise ship looks unnervingly like captain.

Travel humor writer Bob Payne is the editor in chief at BobCarriesOn.com.


Study suggests why pigs don’t fly more often

Researchers in the Department of Porcine Studies at Indiana’s Muncie State University have found strong evidence to suggest that the reason pigs don’t fly more often is their intelligence. In fact, the research seems to indicate that pigs are far smarter than humans, who if offered sufficiently low fares will allow themselves to be sent aloft in conditions virtually all members of the animal world would find unacceptable.

“The evidence is striking, especially when it comes to what humans and the few pigs who do fly will eat when in the air,” said study leader Bob Payne, who has been observing both species since childhood, when growing up over one of Muncie’s most popular barbecue restaurants. Although generally perceived to have undiscriminating tastes, pigs will routinely refuse any airline offering of beef, chicken or pasta, while humans, as long as they are assured that it is “free” will down anything, Payne said.

The study leader added that even if they are crossing time zones pigs are smart enough to keep to a fairly regular dining schedule, while humans will eat breakfast lunch, or dinner at any hour it is served up.

“The contrast is even more stark with alcohol,” Payne said. “Recall when you’ve seen human passengers start in on the booze, especially on flights to the Caribbean. Then ask yourself if you’ve ever seen a pig with a margarita before noon.”

Another clear indication of a pig’s intellectual superiority compared to humans has to do with seating. “You seldom see a pig in an airline seat, even in first class,” Payne said. “But humans will willingly occupy seats that even spiders, scorpions, and snakes have found it nearly impossible to wedge themselves into.”

Ironically, while the relatively few pigs who have consented to fly are usually more than happy to make some seating accommodation if asked to, often even eager to take a later flight, human passengers have sometimes had to be pried out of their seats with the kind of force usually reserved for removing aging members from congress.

Asked if there might come a time when pigs do routinely fly, Payne was less than optimistic. “Not as long as all passengers continue to be treated like sheep,” he said.

When not exercising a leadership position in porcine studies, travel humor writer Bob Payne is the editor in chief of Bobcarrieson.com.