It’s time to stop picking on United

My grandparents used to tell me that when televisions first started becoming popular the news stations had only one job: report the news. It was really simple: here is the story as we factually know it and presto…news! oh-how-the-media-likes-to-sensationalize-things-82123Once the networks realized that sensationalizing a story and essentially beating it into the ground was profitable, there was no stopping them. Everything now is breaking news and having the most up-to-date details, no matter how trivial, can equal millions in extra revenue. This of course means that networks have to continually provide new content and what better way to do so than to go back and further scrutinize a person, business or organization that you have already slammed before. At this point, it’s no longer called news…it’s called bullying…

The easiest way to describe the behaviors of news organizations is by comparing them to a middle school gym class playing dodgeball. The networks are the taller, stronger kids whose pubes have already started sprouting and have the cool parents who let the kids get drunk at their house because they say, “it’s safer under our own roof.” The target organization is the overweight, nearsighted sci-fi nerd who accidentally shit his pants in 4th grade and still hasn’t lived it down. dodgeballOver and over they pound him with red balls and insults, laughing at his cries for mercy and mocking his very existence until he finally cracks and (well, I’m not going to go there…do have some resemblance of a conscience). Celebrities, oil companies, fraternities and sororities, and political parties (varying depending on what channel you watch) are all easy targets that never make it off the bench before taking a round, rubber bullet to the side of their head sending their glasses screeching across the gymnasium. Airlines are in the same boat. Every now and then, one airline will screw up big which will put them in the media drawn crosshairs for at least a few years. Right now it’s United’s turn…and there seems to be no end in sight.

I’m sure United has gone through their share of issues but this particular onslaught seems to have started with one incident which I’m sure we’re all too familiar by now. Let me provide a recap: guy purchases a United ticket from Chicago to Louisville; while buying this ticket he also checks the little box which, paraphrasing, says something like, “I agree with the terms and conditions”; guy gets on United flight; guy is asked to de-plane because of overbooking (here is where those ‘conditions’ come into play); guy refuses (therefore, violating those ‘conditions’); 170410170634-united-airlines-mobile-cut-full-169guy gets dragged off by security allowing another passenger to become a momentary Twitter sensation. Remember that? Immediately following came a serious of unfortunate events including a rabbit dying, two girls not being let on a flight for wearing leggings (or tights…what’s the difference…), a musician fighting a flight attendant and a parent getting pissed for her snot-nosed little brat having to share her seat. All of these things seem to suggest incompetence amongst the airline. However, as bad as they are, this is just the nature of air travel…plain and simple.

Airlines exist for two reasons. To fly passengers and cargo from one point to another and to make a profit while doing it. 26_DrunkPlaneThat’s it…nothing else. And they have to do this while also facing constant public scrutiny, regulations from every government agency on the planet, tight schedules, exhausted employees, new technological breakthroughs, political correctness and the person in seat 30F throwing pretzels down the fuselage because the airport TGIFriday’s served him one to many. Oh and at the same time, do all of this on the cheap because, lord knows, people get pissy when an airline tries to send up a 200,000lb, gasoline filled Megabus across the United States for more than $300.

The one common denominator for all the issues faced by any airline including United are humans. Yes, I know, a rabbit is not human but it was a person who decided that the fucking Easter Bunny needed to fly economy that day. All being said, people are what causes the problems on flights. f129046538de1d7dc688a4e2377ed284People refuse to follow FAA regulations and crew member instructions, people bring their precious animals on board and let them shit all over the aisle, people book tickets way too late leaving them a crappy seat and people dress in provocative clothing and then get mad when it’s brought to their attention. Jerry Seinfeld said it the best, “people are the worst!” He wasn’t kidding.

I have no emotional or economic reason to be defending the airlines but I feel it is necessary to be a voice of reason when it comes to all the bad things we hear about one over another. I’ve had plenty of issues while traveling but never let it get to me. Don’t let the media be your deciding factor when choosing who to board. All airlines are going to have their problems from time to time but for the most part, you’re going to take off, land and live to enjoy your final destination. United we stand (no pun intended) with you through this time. It won’t we long until another carrier screws up enough and you’ll be off the hook for a while. Until then, I’ll see you at the airport!


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5 Cities, 5 “Go-To” Restaurants

One great thing about traveling is the chance to experience new things. New sites, new people, new cultures and, of course, new cuisines. When I’m on the road, I always try and eat a places that I cannot get at home or sample the local delicacy as a way of trying to grasp a real understanding of where I’m at. I’ve had real Philly Cheesesteaks (I prefer provolone, not Cheese Whiz), Maine lobsters, New Mexico Chile’s, New England Clam Chowder and all the great American BBQ (Texas Spicy, Memphis dry-rub and, still my favorite, Sweet Kansas City). I still have a lot of new flavors to try which is another reason my wander lust has never really gone away.

Although, new is good, sometimes familiarity is a nice thing as well since traveling itself is not always the pleasure-filled adventure us bloggers make it out to be. With this in mind, if there is a city I go back to often, I love having a “go-to” restaurant which brings forth good food, consistent service and a sense of comfort that you don’t always get from a hotel or airport. Whether it’s a simple coffee shop or a place of fine dining, this list is a sample of the restaurants I consistently visit when I’m jet-setting around the U.S.

New York, NY
NoHo Star
(330 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012)
New York has over 24,000 restaurants just in the Manhattan area alone which means you could visit a new one every day for the next 65 years and never eat at the same place twice. For someone like me who visits about four times a year, I’d have to live to be over 2,000 years old before I could even make it to midtown. As much as I love exploring new places and new areas of the city, NoHo Star is still one of my favorite places to go for breakfast, lunch or just relax with a cup of coffee.

noho-star07Located in the neighborhood of (you guessed it…) NoHo, NoHo Star sits on the corner of Lafayette and Bleeker streets and offers a diverse menu consisting of breakfast stables, interesting sandwiches and even Chinese options for dinner. The food has always been fresh and they have an outside dining area that adds to the people watching experience. I personally prefer their breakfast/brunch menu with basil scrambled eggs, omelets or even avocado toast (eat shit Tim Gurner). Top that off with some homemade jams and fresh coffee and I’m good to go for wandering around the streets of NYC. This is definitely a place to try on your next trip east.

Chicago, IL
Francesca’s on Chestnut
(200 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL 60611)
Nothing says comfort more than a great Italian meal and I always to try to grab one at my favorite place in Chicago. Francesca’s has been a staple of the Chicagoland area for over 25 years with 19 locations scattered throughout the region. Because my work usually brings me downtown, I mainly stick to the location on Chestnut street a block away from the Water Tower Place and the Hancock Building.

francescasFrancesca’s is open for both lunch and dinner (brunch in some locations) and has a wide array of Italian antipasti’s, pizza, pasta dishes and fresh meat courses. They have a vast wine selection to fit every palate and I have found that their sommeliers are very accommodating when helping you find the perfect bottle in your price range. Add on a great dessert menu and you’ll leave needing to walk the entire downtown loop before attempting the buckle your pants again. It’s best to make reservations especially for dinner but don’t be afraid to walk up to the bar if you’re in town on your own. You won’t be disappointed…my guarantee!

San Francisco, CA
Brioche Bakery & Café
(210 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133)
Sometimes simplicity is key when you’re out on the road and in need of a quick meal or pick me up. Brioche Bakery & Café, located on the fringes of Jackson Square, Chinatown and the Financial District, is a small but well established place to just stop and relax amongst the fast pace of the city. They’re limited seating, which extends outside along Columbus Avenue, gives it a cozy atmosphere to enjoy lunch, a light breakfast or just a cup of coffee. They also have free Wi-Fi and decent bathrooms which is a luxury in many cities this size.

brioche1Brioche offers a great selection of brunch items, hot and cold sandwiches, salads and other entries. Of course, being a bakery, you can also grab a freshly baked pastry, dessert or an assortment of artisanal breads all reasonably priced for downtown . They even have cakes you can order in advance although I’ve never been in the need on a trip to the Bay area. When the weather is nice, you can grab a drink and sit out on the sidewalk watching the always entertaining San Fran population go about their daily business. Drop in sometime and tell them Dr. People Watcher sent you…they won’t know what the hell that means but I can still pretend!

Fort Lauderdale, FL
Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine
(7015 W Broward Blvd, Plantation, FL 33317)
Ok, technically this place is located in Plantation, just west of Fort Lauderdale but for the sake of geographical referencing I’m leaving it be for this post. When I’m in the area, I can’t help but get a craving for Cuban food which I believe is a celebration of the culture this misunderstood population has brought to southeast Florida. Add to it the fact that every dish comes with a side of fried plantains and I’m hooked and coming back every chance I get.

lasvegas_plantation_insideLas Vegas Cuban Cuisine has been in business since 1984 when the Vilariño family decided to open their first location in Hollywood, Florida. What started as a small family restaurant has now exploded into 15 locations in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. They offer traditional Cuban staples including Ropa Vieja (shredded beef), Masas de Cerdo (marinated, fried pork cubes), several different Emparedados (sandwiches) and much more. Their friendly service and family like atmosphere makes even the most naïve gringo (like me) feel right at home every time I return. I recommend stepping out of your culinary comfort zone and give Cuban food a try. You’ll be rethinking that embargo in no time!

Nashville, TN
The Local Taco
(4501 Murphy Rd, Nashville, TN 37209)
My obsession with this restaurant began in college at the University of Kentucky which I was excited didn’t have to end after graduation. With locations peppered across several cities in the south, I can get my taco fix without returning to Lexington and having to wade through a sea of college students, administrators and people I pissed off before heading north (it’s a family trait!).

local tacoThere are three locations in Nashville alone so no matter where I end up, I’m steps away from great food and great music. What else do you need? This small, but charming chain offers unique taco combinations, amazing tomatillo salsa and great sides that keep me coming back for more. Everything is made fresh and the company prides itself on acquiring local meat and produce in order to support the communities where their stores are located. Even as an order-at-the-counter style restaurant, the service has always been great and efficient which only adds to the quality of experience you can expect. If you find yourself in the country music capital of the world, go grab some great tacos before hitting up the honky-tonks. This is a winning combination all around!

Hopefully you’ll swing by one of these establishments or find a place yourself that becomes a go-to. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below and maybe it will make the next list in the future!


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International Travelers Guide to American Airports

Despite questionable travel bans, negative media coverage and an a politically divided rhetoric surrounding the entire country, travel to the United States (U.S.) is still as popular today as it has ever been. Travel for leisure, business, academics and myriad of other reasons keep the U.S. as a top destination for people around the globe. With so many flying in and out of the country every day, your good friend, Dr. People Watcher, is going to take a break from ridiculing various airport subcultures and instead put his knowledge to good use for the sake of our soon to be foreign friends. Statue_of_Liberty_-_4621961395I’ve chosen to focus on the airports because in many cases this is the first impression a visitor will have of our country and I would like to make it a good one.

Here are some useful tips that anyone traveling from outside the U.S. can utilize to help make your trip easier, stress free and less likely to start an international incident!

  • Americans only speak English

No matter where you come from, the easiest thing to do is just assume that nobody in the U.S. speaks a language other than English. In fact, only 1% of Americans are fluent in a second language which compared to other countries is a complete disgrace. Therefore, learning a little bit of English before heading over is not only a good idea, but a necessity especially if you plan on spending time outside of the major metropolitan areas like New York or Los Angeles.

englishIn the airports, be prepared to go English only the minute you land. Some of the larger airports have multi-lingual signage but it is usually restricted to Spanish, French, and maybe Chinese. However, just like anywhere else, following the crowds will usually place you in the right direction. America does have a fairly diverse population (again, mostly in the large cities) so you can find help there. Still, brushing up on your English and downloading some translation apps will go a long way after you land.

  • Personal space is a necessity

One thing America has in abundance is space. As the #3 largest country in the world (in overall square miles), we have plenty of room to grow which is a point of national pride. Unlike cities in Europe and Asia that were built in close proximity for protection against invaders, U.S. cities were built with space in mind and stretch for miles in every direction. This has created a space themed obsession amongst our population.

personal-spaceWhen you land in the states, keep in mind that Americans are accustomed to at least an arm’s length of separation from anyone around them. When getting off the plane, waiting in line at customs and getting your luggage at baggage claim, be sure to put enough space between yourself and those around you. Also, enjoy this as a luxury add-on to your trip. If your home country doesn’t have the same practice, this will be a nice vacation in itself.

  • Tipping is an unfortunate custom

The U.S. likes to brag that its low taxes (compared to other countries) keep the economy strong by putting more money in the pockets of citizens and visitors. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we will find any way possible to nickel-and-dime you during your trip. Tips are not just common courtesy; they are pretty much required. tippingBoth in- and outside of the airport, you are going to be inundated with hands reaching out for an additional payment for everything from being served meals, to giving you a (paid) ride, and even transporting your luggage. At the airport specifically, if you use the curbside check-in, sit down for a meal or even get a cup of coffee, the expectation is 15-20% for a tip. Exceptions being at fast food restaurants and retailers.

The best thing to do is to budget a certain amount of tips into your travels plans. You can also avoid some tipping outlets by not using the curb side check-in, carrying your own luggage and utilizing shared service companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb. Of course, if you do run across a tipping situation, be generous. Many service workers rely on these to supplement their income.

  • Smokers are being phased out

Smoking is not allowed anywhere surrounding air travel including the plane, in the terminal and in some places, even within a certain distance from the airport entrance. This varies significantly by airport but many are phasing out the designated smoking areas to promote a healthier lifestyle amongst travelers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even outside of the airports, smoking is looked down upon. While growing up, most restaurants had both smoking and non-smoking sections which was abandoned city-by-city, state-by-state starting in the early 1990s. Of course, that practice was like having a pissing section in a swimming pool so it has been well received by most Americans. As a visitor who smokes, be conscious of where you can and cannot smoke especially near tourist heavy sites. You can still have your smoke break outside, but just keep it in your own lungs, not ours.

  • Security will be tight

After 9/11, airport security became serious business which has not subsided especially with the onslaught of terrorist attacks routinely happening around the world. With all governmental fingers pointing to sources outside of the U.S., visitors from just about any non-Western country can expect multiple layers of security while entering and exiting America. Even those from our more trusted allies are going to be thoroughly checked out upon arrival.

tsa-searchTo prepare, make sure you have all your documents ready and answer questions from security personnel truthfully and with a certain amount of confidence (uncertainty will just bring on more questioning). Don’t take anything personal as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) folks are just doing their duties and trying to keep everyone safe. In the event you have to go through additional screenings, just continue my advice from above and all will be fine. Unless, of course, they do a cavity search…that part sucks!

In conclusion, I hope these tips help you have a more enjoyable experience state-side. With all the great things we have to offer (unnecessarily large food portions, an entitled yet whiney population and people everywhere running around yelling “America is the greatest country in the world”) how could you not have fun. Thanks and enjoy our little piece of the globe!


Like my judgmental and pessimistic view of the airport world, then follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumbler. You never know, you may be next!


Sleeping in an Airport? 5 Ways to Feel Comfortable

It’s not going to be everyone’s first choice but sometimes spending the night in an airport is inevitable. Whether you’re trying to save money by avoiding pricey airport hotels, or your flights just been cancelled and you’re stuck for an unknown amount of time. These tips will help you find a way to rest in any airport and allow you to avoid a nightmare overnight in an airport carpark.18121938_10104469634992648_8990468203052447310_o

Traveling often calls for versatility. You can’t expect things to run perfectly when you’re on the road, and even if you plan everything right down to the minute there’s still a chance that something may go wrong.

Here are five ways you can survive, and possibly even get a good night’s sleep in an airport:

1. Preparation is Key.

You may think that you’ve hit rock bottom by sleeping in a public space. But you haven’t, not yet anyway. There are certain airports where security don’t support people setting up camp on the seating. However, they’re not going to kick out genuine travelers waiting for their next flight. Ensure you have a valid ticket, showing that you do indeed to travel in the next few hours and you should be fine if anyone asks any questions.

Friends six sweaters2. Dress For the Worst.

Airport air conditioning can be brutal. If you intend to sleepover at an airport it can get extremely cold. Wear comfortable and warm clothing. If you dress well enough you don’t even need blankets! This can help you to avoid looking conspicuously homeless. The less you look like you’re planning to move into the terminal, the better.

3. Make Safety a Priority.

Airports are generally pretty safe. But that doesn’t mean youkeep-calm-and-watch-your-back should treat it like your own home. Remember that this is a public place and as such you should keep your guard up as you would anywhere. Take care of your belongings, sleep on top of them or at the very least keep all important documents on your person. Learn where the security office is and keep in brightly lit areas with CCTV. This will help you feel more relaxed and at ease. All in all helping you have a better rest!

4. Look Around the Airport.

First Do your research. Check out all the spaces available around the building before you decide which spot you’d like to take. You may think you have no options, but if you try hard enough you’ll likely find a good place to relax. Most airports are huge and generally have enough seating for a large number of people. Don’t give up too early.

hangry_cat5. Bring Food and Water. Even though airports are usually open all night, it doesn’t mean that the stores will be. Make sure you’re prepared with food and water to ensure that you stay comfortable throughout the night. Get your supplies before everything closes to avoid that 6 hour stomach rumble and dry mouth – trust me, it will make things a lot more pleasant if you aren’t hangry.

Spending the night in an airport can actually be a pleasant experience if you’re prepared. But just like with any plans, things can go wrong. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Good luck with your in transit overnighter and feel free to leave a comment on your experience of sleeping in an airport!


Hunny is a freelance writer, avid reader and lover of all things travel.

Condé Nast 2016 Top Airports

It’s that time a year again when Condé Nast Traveler names their top airports as determined by the 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards.  Indianapolis International Airport (IND) was named the top choice by the readers.  The rest of the list is below:

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
  • Austin-Bergstrom (AUS)
  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Long Beach (LGB)
  • Palm Beach (PBI)
  • Savannah/Hilton Head (SAV)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Indianapolis (IND)

Congratulations to all the airports on this list!