Rolf Buchholz a 53 year old German is the world’s most pierced man, according to the Guiness Book of Records. He sports 453 piercings plus two horns on his forehead.

This week, he was barred from Dubai. No reason for refusing entry was given by airport officials but airpirt workers reportedly told him that  officials were concerned he could be a practitioner of black magic.

Ironically, he was on his way to a guest appearance at Cirque le Soir nightclub in Dubai’s Fairmont Hotel. This incident will generate some publicity for them?

(For the record, he has 16 piercings in his right ear, 15 in his left ear, 25 in his eyebrows, 8 in his nose, 94 in and around his lips, 2 in his tongue, 8 in the rest of his body, 3 in his nipples, 4 in his navel and 278 in the genital area. My question: Why the horns?)



First of all it was MH370, then MH 17, then Taiwan, Iran, one in Mali and a shooting at a plane in Pakistan. Lots of people have been asking me whether I will keep flying after these horrific events.

A poll, conducted for TheStreet by GfK at the end of July found that 36% of Americans feel afraid to fly internationally. Women are more fearful than men, older people are more fearful than younger people.


Image: Getty

For an Australian who flies Malaysia Airlines a lot and who has traversed the skies above the Ukraine a few times in my Europe voyages, the shooting down last month has shaken me enough to think through my answer.  I still give a firm “yes” based on the mostly good news about flying.

Despite being way more planes in the sky and despite more people flying than ever before, only 29 planes were written off in 2013 and only 265 people lost their lives through air related accidents. Please do not think me flippant or disrespectful when I say “only“. I am not dismissing the value of those people or belittling the pain of the grief caused by their loss. Its just that compared to motor vehicle deaths, this figure is tiny. It is about the same number that die on US roads every three days.

It says something that there are now almost three billion people flying and only a small percentage will ever see a bad air event. In 1994, just twenty years ago when air traffic was way smaller,  there were  67 planes written off and 2027 people died. In the last decade, in every year but one (2005), we have seen the number of fatalities fall under 1000 per year and stay there.

There are many reasons for this amazing progress. Aeroplanes and their components: engines, wings, fuselage  have improved significantly. Advances in technology for  navigation, weather prediction and warnings has reduced crashes. Pilot training has improved significantly.

Sadly,  more people have died (or been presumed dead) in 2014 aeroplane accidents than 2012 and 2013 with theis year’s toll already sitting at 761:  Of course, 537 of these people have been lost through the two Malaysia Airlines‘ losses. These “events” skew a trend that has been downwards for so long. Take those two events out and the death toll sits at 224.

Will I stop flying? No. Will I choose my airlines carefully? As always. Will I fly Malaysia Airlines? My next flight is booked with them in three weeks.  I figure, my chances of being impacted are so low. Now driving in some countries to the airport, that is a different story….

To all who have perished in air crashes, Rest in Peace. Thoughts to their families.

Related Posts

MH 17 Revised Passenger List

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 [updated]

Malaysia Airlines Passengers by Nationality

Taxi Rides from Hell

technico windowlessThe IXION Windowless Business Jet Concept has no windows. Instead any scene can be projected onto a high-res screen on the interior cabin walls and ceiling. It could be the view from the outside of the plane or relaxing scenes or business charts! The displays would be powered by Solar panels on the jet’s exterior.

The design recently won the Exterior Design Concept category at the 2014 International Yacht & Aviation Awards for Paris-based company Technicon.

The advantages of removing windows include:

  • construction cost reductions
  • a lower weight leading to decreased fuel usage
  • increased flexibility for the inside layout of the plane

140816 exterior jet

Isaac Asimov, the late Science Fiction writer, in his book Caves of Steel described windowless flying. As someone who loves gazing from the window, his prediction filled me with dread. Air design up to now has been about increaseing window size (for example Boeing with the 787)  but with most passengers absorbed in kindles, seatback TVs, Ipads and computers, today, do we need windows anymore? Many airlines now have cameras which can send back the exterior view to a screen. Is this IXION concept heralding a future step? Would passengers take to it?

Would you fly a windowless plane?


140814 aiasia test 3 pic

120 AirAsia staff  last Wednesday (August 13) undertook the first ever user acceptance testing of the airline’s newly installed Wi-Fi service. The team used three popular messaging services – LINE, WhatsApp and WeChat with reportedly positive results for all three services. The team also shared live updates on the company’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts.

airaisa test

Instant messaging, emails and content streaming will be gradually rolled out across the entire group starting with flights with the AK code. Sixty AirAsia passengers per  flight will be able to  participate in a “free user test” of the system for the next two months.  I am on board Air Asia in a month and will be interested to see if I get a test run!

The airline intends to fully activate the on-board WiFi at the end of 2013.

Air Asia is claiming that the price of the wifi will “make it the most affordable wifi system in the air”. It  aims to use this service to help increase ancillary income to $US18.86 per passenger.

Malaysian based AirAsia flies to 100 destinations in 22 countries. It is rated a three star airline by Skytrax and passengers on that staff rate the airline at 68%. I have flown them  on short and long haul sectors 11 times and currently rate then at 66%. The company reported a drop in profit for the first part of this year as overcapacity impacted the carrier on many of its routes. It operates with the lowest unit cost of any carrier in the world.

This video on the BBC Travel website had me rolling around. Hilarious – and sobering. What crazy things people do when young and carefree?!

The site has a series of animated mis adventures based on reader experiences including:

What misadventures have you had? Apart from almost getting robbed in Paris, having my starter motor die on my four wheel drive in the outback, sleeping in my car when we ran out of fuel in rural Western Australia, and almost getting blown up, I have been relatively fortunate!



Funny, cynical and thoughtful.

The safety announcement is much like many I have observed. Watch what happens to the oblivious passengers next…


One wonders if some people should be allowed to fly?

Thomson airlines may have second thoughts about letting one woman back on a plane after she threw food at their staff on a flight from Tunisia to Edinburgh on July 30. She then allegedly hit a child and attacked the cabin crew with her prosthetic leg which she had detached. Another passenger said that the woman was shouting “I want cigarettes”.  She then reportedly demanded a parachute to jump off the plane.

The captain of Thomson Airlines flight 297 was so concerned that he diverted the plane to London’s Gatwick airport where police escorted her off the plane. She was questioned at Crawley police station on suspicion of threatening behaviour.


Passengers said the woman had been involved in an argument at a resort in Tunisia and then on the bus to the airport.

The plane had been scheduled to arrive in Edinburgh at 11.30pm  Wednesday 30th July but did not arrive until 2.30am the next day. The fate of the unruly passenger has not been publicised- I suspect she won’t be flying Thomson again.



Tempted by this extraordinary deal from Etihad. Hot on their Australian status match promotion, the airline is offering ridiculously cheap fares to Europe and India from all Australian ports. I am trying to work out whether the airline has massive capacity or is trying to flex some muscle?

For example, Sydney to Amsterdam or Paris or Rome or Zurich  for $A1230 round trip. The next cheapest price from any airline is around $1430 with Vietnam Airlines and China Southern, both of which take much longer to get you to Europe.

The extraordinary bargain are the flights from Australia to India. For example, I found Sydney to Mumbai for $605 return!

Flights need to be booked by 15th August for departures between 1st October 2014 to 10th December 2014.  I used Skyscanner and found mixed availability in October departures but great availability for November. 

Etihad is the Abu Dhabi based airline of the United Arab Emirates.

They held a four star rating with Skytrax beforewithdrawing from the Skytrax rating system in June this year. Passenger reviews on Skytrax give them 59%. I rate them at 73% compared with my 92% rating for Emirates.


Related Posts

Etihad Free Gold Status match – for Aussies only

Etihad unveils flying hotel!

Trip Report: Etihad Evaluated

All views in this post are my own and do not represent my employer. I do not receive commission for this offer and I only recommend deals that I would choose for myself


My 60th country will be Denmark which I will visit this September.

Copenhagen, its capital will be the 182nd city of over 100 thousand people I have visited in my life. We are staying in the old quarter of the city near a metro station.

mdenmarkThe Tivoli Gardens, Little Mermaid, Strøget, and Christiania are the immediate attractions I associate with the city.

What else should be on my list?

Any other tips for Copenhagen?


Related Posts

Visiting Myanmar Reflections and Advice

Burma (Myanmar) Bound

Any advice for Myanmar?

My 58th country: Vietnam

I visit my 57th country


Today, the woman in front of me got called over for “special screening” at the security checkpoint. The officers were concerned about something in her bag. Turned out she had a large bag of candy which had not been sealed. There was candy all through her hand luggage.

What had attracted the screener’s attention were the large candy snakes which were sitting at the bottom of the case!


Etihad is trying to seriously wrestle Qantas and Emirates for some international traffic out of Australia.

Ugoldntil 6th August, they are have a deal to extend Gold status in their Etihad Guest” Frequent Flyer program to any Australian who holds Gold (or higher status) with any international airline but Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines.


Gold with Etihad gets you:

  • 50 precent more miles on every Etihad flight
  • access to business class lounges run by Etihad, Virgin Australia, Air Berlin, Singapore airlines and other carriers for the Gold card holder and guest
  • 15kg additional baggage allowance
  • priority baggage handling
  • Business Class check in and priority through immigration


There are five conditions to be eligible for this deal:

  1. You have to be a member of the Etihad Guest loyalty program
  2. You have to hold gold or higher status with any airline except Virgin Australia and Singapore
  3. You have to prove that you are an Australian resident
  4. You have to have show that you have flown in business or first class to Europe or the Middle East at least twice in the past 12 months with “ticket copies, boarding cards or loyalty program statements
  5. You get everything to Etihad by midnight of the 6th of August, 2014


More information from Etihad. The airline have said that the number of matches they will give out is limited but it does not feel that by their marketing push. For example, I have  been interested that this ad has been appearing every day on my Facebook feed:

facebook feed

Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates and is based in Abu Dhabi. They compete closely with Emirates. They held a four star rating with Skytrax before withdrawing from the Skytrax rating system in June this year. Passenger reviews on Skytrax give them 59%. I rate them at 73% compared with my 92% rating for Emirates.


Related Posts

Etihad unveils flying hotel!

Trip Report: Etihad Evaluated



All views in this post are my own and do not represent my employer. I do not receive commission for this offer and I only recommend deals that I would choose for myself



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