Category Archives: Warnings

Unusual Reason You Can Be Denied Boarding a Flight

gateagent

It is with great sadness that one of my loved ones was unable to make it back home to Canada for Christmas.

Why was he unable to?

Because he was denied boarding. 

Why was he denied boarding?

Not because the flight was overbooked.

Not because the flight was cancelled.

Not because he didn’t have a seat.

Not because he was drunk and unruly.

Not because he was on the no-fly list or any other obvious reason.

DamagedPassport

He was denied because his passport was damaged.

Most of us take good care of our important documents but we are only human and it is so easy to have an accident and damage those documents.  Unfortunately most of us don’t even realize what small “damage” to a passport can cause you to be denied boarding a flight and hence the reason I am writing this post. The worst part is, in Canada if you have to replace a damaged passport, you must complete a comprehensive general application and will not be able to simply renew it and this process can take weeks if not longer.

According to the Canadian Passport Office a passport is considered damaged if it:

  • impedes the identification of the holder;
  • appears to have been altered or falsified; or
  • could potentially cause problems or has been denied by an airline or at a point of entry due to perceived damage.

Examples of damage to a passport:

  • has been exposed to water or humidity
  • has a tear in one or more pages
  • contains unauthorized markings
  • the information and/or photo have been altered or made less identifiable
  • pages have been removed or torn out
  • the cover and inside pages have come apart
  • has been chewed by a child or pet
  • other forms of damage that are not listed here

A few years ago when I was in Grenada, I was almost denied boarding a flight back to Toronto because of my passport photo.

The officer looked at my passport then looked at me and asked, “Where is your beauty mark?”

I told him I didn’t have one to which he replied, “You have a beauty mark in your passport photo.  Come with me please.”

Wow! Was I ever sweating!! My heart sank right into my stomach because I had no idea what he was talking about.

I was taken into an interrogation room for a more detailed search of my belongings and asked many questions.

Fortunately they let me have a look at my passport so I could see what they were talking about…

PassportPhoto

As it turned out when I was entering Grenada, the officer stamping my passport accidentally put pen marks on my passport photo page AND on my face in my photo! Fortunately, the pen mark was in blue, there were multiple other pen marks on the page and I had several other pieces of photo ID so they let me pass.

I was sure to renew my passport well in advance of my next trip because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck anywhere again over something so silly.

There are a multitude of reasons that a traveller may be refused boarding or entry/exit into a country but don’t be one of those people.  Be sure to add “check the condition of your passport “ to your pre-travel checklist and do this well in advance of travelling.  If you are unsure about the condition of your passport, visit a local passport office or contact your airline.

Safe travels my friends. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday Season without hiccups such as these.

Cheers,

TSW

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Is a Bad Premonition Just Cause for Cancelling a Trip?

womanlookingtofuture

Spooky? Or a case of being spooked?

Hallowe’en has always been my favorite holiday and it is just around the corner! What isn’t there to enjoy about the fall colours, visits to the orchard, haunted houses and scary movies on every channel?

This week I was originally planning on writing about some scary experiences that I have had while on the road however, something very unusual happened to me a few days ago which I feel is a much more suitable topic for the week of Halloween.

I had a premonition: A bad premonition and 3 warnings, so I decided to cancel my trip.

Before you think I’ve totally fallen off my rocker, let me tell you that I am a scientist by nature so I am naturally skeptical of such things but this has only ever happened to me twice before in my life.  The first time I was not able to avoid the situation and the second time I was able to avoid it.  These are my stories:

Premonition #1: Saved My Little Brother’s Life

My brother 8 and me 11.

My brother 8 and me 11.

When I was 11 years old, I had a premonition that the next day my mother, brother and I were going to be in a serious car accident and that my brother who was seated in the front seat of the vehicle was going to die.  When the next day came around, the entire morning felt like Deja-vu and the dreadful feeling intensified.  It was my brother’s turn to sit in the front seat that day so I begged him to sit in the back seat with me, in the middle which is the safest seat in the car.  As my premonition had it, we did get into a terrible car accident. My mother who was driving was not wearing a seat-belt ended up on the passenger side of the car with her head smashed through passenger side windshield.  If my little brother who was just 8 years old was seated in that seat, I am certain that he would have died that day.  Fortunately, we were all okay.

Premonition #2: “Don’t take the rock!”

ElvesAfter hiking my very first volcano in Iceland, I decided that I wanted to take home a souvenir. In spite of being warned by the locals (who believe in folklore-in particular about the “Hidden People”) to NEVER move or remove any rocks, I decided that I wanted to take one from the volcano.  As soon as I picked it up, this daunting, dreadful, feeling of impending doom came over me and it was as though I heard a voice in my head saying, “Don’t take the rock!”.  So I decided to listen and immediately put the rock back where I found it.  Nothing happened after but who knows what could have happened if I would have taken it?

So even if my premonition was only correct the first time, in my mind it means that when I have one there is at least a 50% chance that my premonition will turn out to be true.  Statistically speaking, that is quite significant.

So what happened this time?

Originally I was elated to go on this trip to Las Vegas but as I went to actually book it, I became completely overwhelmed with a terrible, daunting feeling as though something awful will happen to me there if go.

Am I afraid of travel?

Hell no! I’m the Travelling Saleswoman!  For the past 10 years I have travelled for up to 100 days a year in hotels and most of the time done so alone.

Am I afraid of travelling alone?

Hell no! I travel solo for both business and leisure over 90% of the time. Frankly, I prefer it!

What were these “warning” signs?

1. Failed Booking Attempt #1: On Sunday afternoon, as I submitted the payment details for my trip as I have always done using the Air Canada vacations booking site, this dreadful feeling took a hold of me and urged me not to press submit. I got a sudden rush of these very dark images in my mind-nothing specific but very dark. In spite of this, I pressed submit but received an error message saying that it was unable to book. I tried another 3 times and received the same message so I decided to call the Air Canada Call Center and they informed me that their system was down until further notice and that they were unable to book my trip, so I gave up for the time being.

2. My TV Froze on the film “Hostel III” which happens to take place in Vegas. After I got off the phone with Air Canada and made some lunch, I sat down and turn on the TV and Hostel III was on HBO.  I thought great! I hadn’t seen this one before (believe it or not!). For those of you who are unfamiliar with these films, the story goes something along the lines of rich psychopaths who are part of an elite killing club which kidnaps tourists and tortures them. Coincidentally, this film took place in Vegas, where I was planning on going and had the bad premonition about! After I realized that I had in fact seen this movie before (I forget movies all the time!), I tried to check the other channels to see what other movies were on but, I couldn’t change the channel because my PVR froze. Was this telling me something? Or am I just crazy?

3. Failed Booking Attempt #2 and 3: Ignoring the previous bad gut feeling, failed booking attempt and timely exposure to Hostel III, the following day I decided to try and book my trip once again. This time I simultaneously tried booking on Air Canada’s site AND Expedia BUT BOTH SITES FAILED! Even with different airlines. For some unknown reason, both sites kept timing out and wouldn’t let me book. It wasn’t an issue with my internet connection since I have the fastest connection available and was able to operate all other websites without issue.  I took this as a final warning sign and decided not to go on this trip.

As I mentioned previously, I rarely get any sort of premonition but based on my personal experience, I do not take these lightly. Call it what you may, “woman’s instinct”, “gut feeling” or whatever but the bottom line is, when my gut or whatever it may be gives me such a powerful feeling, I won’t ignore it.

Is it a coincidence that over 350 passengers originally scheduled on the hijacked 9/11 flights either cancelled or didn’t board last minute? Maybe or maybe not.

The truth of the matter is that in spite of how much science can explain, there is much more to life out there that we cannot yet explain and perhaps never will.

In reading this, do you think that having a bad premonition is just cause for cancelling a trip?

Have you ever had a similar experience? Or known someone who has?

I would love to hear your stories.

In the meantime, travel safe my friends and listen to your gut.

Cheers,

TSW

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Reasons Why the iPhone is Inferior to BlackBerry for Business

And Why I’m Ditching my iPhone and Going Back to Blackberry

iphone_trash_300x2991

When I first hopped on the bandwagon and switched to an iPhone, I quickly realized how useless it is for business and that it was much more of a toy.  Sure the iPhone is pretty, has lots of fancy apps and you can play all sorts of games, however the applications for business use are seriously lacking. Yesterday I experienced the last and final straw with this device which pushed me over the edge to toss my iPhone and go back to BlackBerry.  However, before I get to that, I’ll share the other primary reasons why I find the iPhone inferior to BlackBerry for business use.

  1. Keyboard (touch vs QWERTY)

blackberry-classic-QWERTY.0

In business, most of us are used to typing on a computer on a daily basis.  For me, typing out emails on a touch screen keyboard is completely aggravating. Even more so is the autocorrect feature which consistently seems to add the most inappropriate words and makes it difficult to use the words you intended to use.  Furthermore, as a woman who likes to have nice nails, you can’t have them if you intend to use the touch screen keyboard since the screen will not respond to nail tips.   I realize this sounds girly, but I never thought I’d have to choose between being able to use my phone and having a nice manicure.  I suppose I could have invested in a stylus, but I’m sure I would have misplaced that in less than 24 hours.  So, bye-bye manicure it was.

  1. Email Access

nowifiOn my iPhone, in order for me to access my work email (which is an IMAP account), I had to manually disable my wifi and use my cellular data to send and receive email.  Apple apparently has no solution to this problem and nicely told me that if I want to use this “old” email set-up (which I obviously have no say in) that I must routinely disable my wifi to check if I received any new email.  Furthermore, if I sent an email while out of a wifi zone and then my phone picks up a wifi network without me noticing, my sent email could sit in my outbox until I leave the wifi area.  How ridiculously inconvenient is that??? I never experienced this issue on a BlackBerry.

 

  1. Available Travel Apps

BBTravelNotificationI was spoiled by BlackBerry’s Travel Manager app.  With zero effort on my part, this app picked up all of my travel arrangements, put them in my calendar, gave me notifications (some of which were even before the airline itself would announce them) and provided timely reminders for anything I could think of.  When I switched to an iPhone, I was extremely disappointed that there wasn’t and app that was even remotely close to being as efficient as the BlackBerry Travel App.  Tripit, I was told was the “closest” and that is a long shot! All travel arrangements have to be manually inputted into this app. If you are lucky, when you manually forward email your reservation to the app, it will acknowledge it 25-50% of the time.  The other 50-75% of the time it doesn’t understand the reservation and you have to enter ALL of your travel info MANUALLY!!! Who has time for this??? Sometimes I have over 20 days of reservations booked for flights, hotels, car rentals etc. and to have to enter this data manually? Forget it! Even worse is that it will only notify you of a flight change or delay if you pay for the premium version. Did I mention that BlackBerry Travel was FREE?

  1. Battery Life

iphone-LOWbatteryThe iPhone is also seriously lagging in this department.  I have to charge it 1-2 times daily whereas my BlackBerry would last at least one full day if not more. This is extremely inconvenient when travelling where you don’t always have access to a power outlet.

  1. Security

How to lock files and folder with password

To date, I was willing to accept all of these faults I mentioned above and managed to live with them for almost a year, but yesterday I had my last straw with this device.  Yesterday morning I unlocked my phone only to discover that someone was remotely browsing through old files and photos that I had “permanently deleted” on my device. They also accessed my Facebook account (which I could see) and who knows what else!  If this hacker had access to that information, they clearly had access to all of the other information on my device including where I live.  How scary is that? So much for confidentiality! In business, confidentiality is of utmost importance, so why put all of that at risk?  There is a reason the government uses BlackBerry.  All of the information is secure and can be easily encrypted.  The security on a BlackBerry is unbeatable.

BACKUP

The only place to back-up your iPhone data is on the iCloud or on  iTunes. If your account has been compromised, what is the point to putting it back in an unsecure zone? There is no direct secure way to back up files to a PC or encrypt files securely.  This is a very serious flaw!

VULNERABLE APPS

Recently in excess of 25,000 iPhone and iPad Apps have vulnerabilities that allow hackers easy access into your iPhone and your iCloud. You can read more about this massive security flaw here.

To check if any the apps you are using are vulnerable go check this website by clicking here . I realized that I had quite a few vulnerable apps on my phone including but not limited to:

  • Yahoo mail
  • Skype
  • Soundcloud
  • Find my iPhone <-Yes seriously!!! Thanks Apple!
  • Battery Doctor

So, all of that being said, I got rid of my iPhone yesterday and switched back to a BlackBerry which I love.  Sure it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles but it is a workhorse and it is secure.  Like most business professionals, I need to do work on my phone, not play games and the BlackBerry is the best device on the market for that purpose.

If you are a business professional using an iPhone, make sure to either delete your cloud account or at minimum change your Apple ID and all other passwords weekly, otherwise you run a very high risk of all of your data being compromised.

I hope that you found this information helpful and have an opportunity to make the appropriate changes before your phone and consequently your data is compromised.

The iPhone is a toy.  The BlackBerry is a Business tool.

Keep your data safe fellow business men and women.

 

TSW

Listening to a little Back in Black

Back-in-Black

 

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