Some airlines make the experience of flying so awful that you would pay extra to avoid the awfulness. In the words of the law professor who coined the term “calculated misery”:
…in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as “calculated misery.” Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.
is the reversal of how we usually think about upgrades. Think of going to a restaurant and ordering a burger: Cheese and bacon usually cost extra, and many people will gladly pony up because the gooey cheese and crackling, salty bacon enhance the experience.
With the airline industry, it’s the opposite: You’re upgrading to avoid hell.
It’s like if a burger joint charged you for a patty of plain ground beef and a bun, then gave you the chance to make your burger more palatable by paying a seasoning fee, a medium-rare fee, and separate surcharges for lettuce, tomato, and onion. Or, in airline speak, a seat selection fee, a checked baggage fee, a wifi fee, a preboarding fee, an extra legroom fee, and so on.
In the airline industry, many services and amenities that used to be standard now qualify as an “upgrade.” Meanwhile, the “standard” experience is frequently so miserable that many people will pay to make it better.
1. Yes, it is completely unscripted and spontaneous.
2. Yes, Pepe and I were acquainted but we never hung out until we started filming Trippies.
3. Yes, we have no make-up or styling because we have enough to do without worrying about how we look. Yes, we could do with make-up and styling. (After I viewed the first two episodes I realized I should go back to wearing black because I look even weirder in color.)
4. No, I have the easiest job on the show because I just stand there and yak while everyone has to plan and execute shots, etc.
5. No, the age difference is an advantage to me because I can use it as an excuse. Example: Naah, I won’t go down the loooong stairs to the underground tunnel, I might re-injure my knee.
TRIPPIES airs on Sundays at 730pm on CNN Philippines, with replays Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at lunchtime. Pepe and I guest on Real Talk with Christine Jacob Sandejas and Rachel Alejandro this week.
Filmmaker Pepe Diokno and I talk our way around the world in a weekly half-hour show. TRIPPIES premieres on Sunday, 12 March at 7:30pm on CNN Philippines. Replays air on Tuesdays at 1:30pm, Thursdays at 12:30pm, and Saturdays at 11am.
Trippies has conversation, food, history, and an international cast of dogs and cats.
Help us spread the word!
Got a question about the show or about travel in general? Post it in Comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drogon is not amused at his human’s constant absence.
Just returned from a week in Korea, the land of K-Pop, Koreanovelas, kimchi and general kookiness, where the toilets have settings that never occurred to me and everything is good for you (They’re not just stairs, they’re the Stairs of Longevity leading to the Gift Shop of Good Fortune).
The travel show Trippies premieres on CNN Philippines next month.
Marzipans. All photos of Istanbul vitrines and shop displays by JZ.
A sparrow was sipping water from a half-filled glass in an Istanbul café Wednesday morning. Customers had their lunch outside, thanks to the warm weather, and chatted about the latest episode of Sherlock, screened hours after the terror attack on the city’s Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve, which killed 39 people. Two cats were fed leftovers; a stray dog watched the scene from a safe distance. The terror threat level had been raised as high as it would go, not only because of the Reina attack, but also a simultaneous attack in the capital Ankara that had been foiled at the last minute, not to mention many more that had been thwarted in the past month. But this did not at all seem like a city under threat.
How do Istanbulites do it? It is a hard trick to pull, this immediate return to normality. Some consider it an expression of powerlessness, but I find wisdom in the ability to counter shock with calm. After the suicide attack at the Ataturk Airport in June, the scene was cleaned of signs of chaos in a matter of hours. The shattered glass was swept away, airport personnel reopened their desks, baristas served overpriced Caramelattes to travelers—it didn’t really feel as if 45 people had died hours earlier. And yet those people were not trying to erase history. Living in the present moment, for them, was a form of defiance, not amnesia.
Record levels of snow fell over Europe, blanketing the continent, closing the Bosphorus to shipping and causing flight cancellations. In Istanbul, homeless people and stray animals were rounded up and taken to shelters. In Cappadocia, the snow heightened the extraterrestrial feel of the landscape. It makes me think of Arrakis with snow instead of sand, and the fairy chimneys as frozen sandworms.
It was supposed to be our last day in Turkey. In the morning we went up in a hot air balloon for spectacular views of Cappadocia.
To no one’s surprise, the airport was snowed in and our afternoon flight back to Istanbul was cancelled.
These clever cats live at the Nevsehir airport, where there are warm spots to huddle in and people to give them food. I had taken to carrying cheese and cold cuts from the breakfast buffet for the critters I met.
The safest way to get back to Istanbul was by land. So the next day we drove ten hours from Goreme to Istanbul, with pit stops every two or three hours. Turn a setback into an adventure! I must’ve seen every public WC and convenience store in Anatolia.
Throughout this unexpected development, the center of calm and efficiency was our tour guide, Arif Yasa. Not only is Arif super-knowledgeable about Turkish history, culture, and cuisine, he is also extremely kind and patient. You try being in charge of ten Pinoys, each with specific requirements, and maintain your sanity.
If you’re going to Turkey, one of the smartest things you can do is get Arif to be your guide. You can reach him at email@example.com.
By 8pm we were having dinner at a mall in Istanbul, by 10 we were at the airport. Almost the minute I strapped myself into my seat, I was asleep.
Notes on travelling to Turkey and elsewhere
1. The news is scary, so it’s natural to hesitate about going there. In the aftermath of the nightclub shooting, security has been tightened in Istanbul and people have been warned to avoid crowded places. At no time during our eight-day trip did I feel unsafe. Not to belittle the problem, but there is an upside to this: fewer tourists. You can hear yourself think.
Listen, the whole world looks like Children of Men (the Alfonso Cuaron movie) now. Are you going to hide, or are you going to get out there and live?
2. Always have travel insurance, even if it’s not required when getting your visa. Shit happens. Best to be prepared.
3. If you’re going to a cold country, Uniqlo is your friend. When I was packing for the trip it occurred to me that my ten-year-old winter coat could use reinforcements. I stocked up on Uniqlo sweaters and Heattech shirts, and they saved me from hypothermia when the mercury dropped.
4. How can you see the world when you’re perpetually checking your phones and tablets? Disconnect. It’s mostly chaos and idiocy anyway, and you do not need minute-by-minute updates. Enjoy the silence. Get reacquainted with yourself.
While I defrost my extremities, enjoy this camp classic from Turkey, one of the most bizarre movies ever made: The Man Who Saves The World a.k.a. Turkish Star Wars.
For great Turkish films, check out Yol (The Road), Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, or Winter Sleep.