29 May 2008

World’s safest airlines

Last week I scared you with a list of the worst airlines in the world in terms of safety. Now to the good news.
So you still don’t like Air Canada? In their defence, they have a superb safety record. It has been twenty-five years since there was a death on Air Canada, and that was caused by a smoker setting fire to the lavatory.
So as a long distance traveler, going overseas to Europe or Africa or Asia, what is the best way to protect yourself? Well, the short answer is to fly on a major western airline using Airbus and/or Boeing aircraft. The airline should be using relatively new aircraft, and have a solid service record. There are a handful of great and safe airlines flying over the wide oceans.
The safest way to cross the North Atlantic ocean by air is on (from North America) Air Canada, Delta, North West Orient, Continental, and United Airlines; and (from Europe) British Airways, Lufthansa, SAS, Alitalia, Air France, and KLM.
The best way to cross the Pacific Ocean by air is also with Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, QANTAS, All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, Malaysia, Thai International, and Singapore Airlines.
Africa has one great and safe airline: South African. The Middle East has Saudi Airlines.
So as you plan for your globe-spanning journey, think about using a safe airline.

26 May 2008

World’s most dangerous airlines

So you don’t like Air Canada? Well, Air Canada has a superb safety record. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum are airlines so dangerous they are banned from entire areas of the world.
As of April 2008, there are ninety-two (92) airlines and cargo airlines completely banned from flying into or over Europe. Yes, the European Union has totally and completely banned the following airlines from European airspace due to those airlines’ blatant disregard for safety.
For the EU list and updates, click here.
Air Koryo, North Korea.
Air West, Sudan.
Ariana Afghan Airlines, Afghanistan.
Mahan Air, Iran.
Silverback Cargo Freighters, Rwanda.
TAAG Angola Airlines, Angola.
Ukraine Cargo Airways, Ukraine.
Ukrainian Mediterranean Airlines, Ukraine.
Volare Aviation, Ukraine.
All airlines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
All airlines in Equatorial Guinea.
All airlines in Indonesia, including Garuda Indonesian.
All airlines in Kyrgyz Republic.
All airlines in Liberia.
All airlines in Sierra Leone.
All airlines in Swaziland.
And these are just the worst: there are hundreds of bad airlines, but these are cringingly-scary and life-threateningly awful.
The other bad news is Africa: airlines based in Africa are the most dangerous on which to fly. You are six times as likely on these airlines to be the victim of an airline accident than anywhere else in the world.
So do yourself and your family a favour, and stick to safe airlines with proven maintenance track records.

15 May 2008


The trio of countries, Kenya - Tanzania - Uganda, are high on the itinerary of travelers seeking high-quality safaris in the real wild Africa.
Each of the three countries requires Canadians and all other westerners to have a visa prior to arrival.
The good news is that travel between the countries in this group is rather easy in terms of visas. You can now use a single entry visa (issued for each country to which you will travel), and then re-enter the first country using your single entry visa.
This means you can land in Kenya, visit Tanzania and Uganda, and return to Kenya on your single entry visa. This also means you can land in Tanzania, visit Kenya and Uganda, and return to Tanzania on your single entry visa. This works for re-entry to both Kenya and Tanzania, but not for Uganda. Uganda will sell a second visa at the time of re-entry for US$50.
So get your single entry visas and go on safari in Africa!
Kenya visa
Tanzania visa
Uganda visa

05 May 2008

The dangers of not having a visa

Sometimes people say to me I am only trying to sell them a visa, and not really giving them useful travel advice. At first glance this may seem fair criticism as I do make a living selling visa services. It is also possible in some places at some times to buy cheap (or at least cheaper) visas at the border. But is this really a good idea? No.
Be prepared. Are you really willing to risk travelling half way around the world without that visa just to have saved a few dollars, then find out you cannot buy a border visa upon arrival? The wise traveller has all their visas and documents in hand prior to getting on the airplane.
The following story happened to people with whom I was travelling on a Mekong River cruise from Cambodia to Vietnam in 2005. As the boat sailed from Cambodia into Vietnam, each passenger had to have a valid Vietnamese visa in their passport. These were all collected at the river border post for checking and stamping. One couple had bought a common single entry visa for Vietnam a few months before. This would have been fine had they not already used it! Yes, they landed in Vietnam, then flew on to Cambodia to catch the river boat. Now they were trying to re-enter Vietnam with a used visa. Entry was denied to the entire boat, and we floated on a watery border no-man's-land for 18 hours as one crewmember took a speed boat then a motorcycle back to Phnom Penh to get two new Vietnamese visas from the embassy. Eventually the new visas were acquired and stamped and we were allowed to proceed.
The other forty passengers were very very unhappy with the two people who had bought the wrong visa and whose use of that visa stopped everyones' holiday in the middle of a river. They had no visa when they should have had easy passage.
The moral of the story is be prepared and have your visas in your passport for every border crossing.