Author Archives: Michael Otieno

ByMichael Otieno

Conditions for flying while ill

Forecasts for the global medical tourism market predict a growth of at least 18 per cent over the next decade, to reach about $99 billion by 2025.

Per these reports, some of the leading global medical tourism destinations are Singapore, Thailand, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Mexico and Costa Rica, with Thailand and India taking the lead in having the largest number of accredited medical facilities.

India, which is listed as a top destination for Africans seeking treatment overseas, is poised to more than double its medical tourism market from the current $3 billion to over $8 billion by 2020.

Just to bring it closer home, by 2015 East Africans were spending about $1 billon on medical treatment in India.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Flying with kids need not to be a stressful experience

I have never seen a child on a leash. So you can imagine what crossed my mind when I saw this kid, hardly three years old, on a “child leash” aboard an aircraft.

The kid on the leash was dishing out terror in the aisle with ease, only limited by the restraint.

At the other end of the leash was a bloodshot-eyed middle aged male who appeared beat. He looked like he was about to give up on life itself.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Aircraft safety: No small technical hitch

Earlier this week I noticed an oil leak from my car. To avoid an impending breakdown, my first stop was the nearest garage.It was nothing compared with my regular service centre but I figured they could at least identify and plug the leak with ease.

After a preliminary examination of the car, each of the three mechanics had their own gut feeling as to the cause of the leak.

The guesswork and theories they all had were least to say, petrifying. I knew it was time to get my car to safety when the leader of the pack returned with a final verdict that the car engine needed to be taken apart.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Inflight duty-free shopping: A necessity or a fad?

I ended my 2016 flying activities just 4,000 miles shy of the 200,000 frequent flyer miles mark. That’s an average of 3,700 miles a week.

At this rate, I am well on the way to achieving the coveted “Million Miler” status that rewards members of certain airline alliances for their extraordinary long-term loyalty.

When you fly so frequently, tucking away all those flyer miles week on week, there is no excitement in flying anymore except for the possibilities that await at your destination.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Consider off-peak travel for best deals

If you flew for leisure within the region in the just ended holiday season and cursed your airline of choice for the extortionist fares, you could be part of the reason for the high fares.

As in every sector of the economy, the laws of demand and supply keep the wheels of the travel industry moving.

I am sure there are those who are still wondering whether the expensive flights and crowded hotels were worth the money spent after all. To make it even more regrettable, some domestic airline services specifically in Kenya were chaotic and unreliable.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Is that flight upgrade really worth it?

Last week, my editor received an email from her airline of choice informing her that on an upcoming flight she was eligible for an upgrade to business class.

I could tell she was bursting with excitement as the email, which she forwarded to me, was complete with pictures of the Premium Class cabin — flat beds and a very swanky looking interior.

Going by the tone of her brief email, I could tell that she was picturing herself in that dreamy luxurious cabin. In any case, during the holiday season a little self-pampering is well deserved.

 

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Air travel rules come before any airline passenger wishes

Ryanair, one of the most successful low-cost carriers globally — often referred to as the “bad boy” of European airlines is headed by Michael O’Leary. His mantra is simple; “Short of committing murder, negative publicity sells more seats than positive publicity.”

Every time a law suit is thrown at Ryanair, its management milks every marketing mile from the opportunity.

O’Leary who believes that advertising agencies are useless and marketing companies a waste of money, is other than being the chief executive officer also head of marketing at the airline.

Ryanair came to mind when I read an article last week in our sister publication, Business Daily, on a disabled doctor who has decided to sue a Kenyan low-cost airline for discrimination.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

It is a raw deal for frequent flyers

vipIt is agreed in aviation circles that the bulk of an airline’s revenues will come from just a few of its customers flying frequently or repeatedly.Hence the 80:20 rule: 80 per cent of an airline’s revenues will come from 20 per cent of its passengers.

Frequent flyer in this case would mean those that fly so frequently each year such that they maintain their elite status in the loyalty program of the airline their use.

Knowing this, successful global carriers put extra effort in recognising, then rewarding and pampering this small group of passengers that fly so frequently hence making the bulk of an airline’s passenger revenue.

 

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

What you should know about onboard hygiene

cabincleanMy biggest fear of flying was amplified after watching the series “The Strain”. An extremely dark and twisted form of being – straight from Lucifer’s own backyard under transport in the belly of the aircraft finds its way to the cabin full of passengers.

You probably know how the plot unravels and yes you are thinking it’s fiction and nothing to get all wired about.

Well here is something that is not fiction; your typical airliner is home to a cocktail of germs, bacteria and tonnes of other communicable disease causing microbes.

Read More

ByMichael Otieno

Travelling with a credit card purchased air ticket?

A few weeks ago, this column encouraged travellers to consider the option of purchasing tickets directly from airline websites rather than from travel agents.

There was disapproval mainly from travel agents who felt that they remain relevant. Some argued that the region or rather Africa still lacks the infrastructure and skilled staff to handle direct online distribution and payment. Probably they were right.

Your old school taxi driver undoubtedly said the same about Uber, just as conventional hotels dismissed Airbnb.

 

Read More