Perpetual Traveller Overseas
People travel to fareaway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home

World's Top Airport Runway Approaches Listed

The best 10 airport approaches in the world have been listed in a report produced by aviation firm PrivateFly. The airport locations vary from busy urban locations to barren landscapes, but all give pilots and passengers exhilarating and striking views as they prepare to make contact with the approaching runways. Sion Airport in Switzerland heads the list, sat in an Alpine valley that inbound aircraft fly through before landing, while the dramatic Princess Juliana International Airport comes in second.

The remainder of the top ten best airports list is comprised of St Barts Airport, Gibraltar Airport, St Gallen-Altenrhein Airport, Madeira Airport, London City Airport, Lukla Airport, Las Vegas McCarran Airport and, finally, Barra Airport.

World’s Top Airport Approaches
Switzerland’s Sion is described in the world’s top airport approaches list as ‘Europe’s most stunning airport’. Two months ago, it was awarded another accolade when it won a high-profile airport safety award. St Gallen-Altenrhein is the other Swiss airport on the list and, again, it’s the surrounding, mountainous terrain that gives it a ‘wow’ factor. Princess Juliana International Airport is on the Caribbean island of St Maarten and lies directly beyond a well-attended beach resort. Popular with holidaymakers, the beach setting approach is perhaps even more popular among aircraft enthusiasts, who flock there from all corners of the globe to watch large airliners approaching from out over the sea, and skimming metres above the beach before their wheels hit the tarmac. Princess Juliana has a single, 7,400-foot long runway and a single terminal, but is a major international gateway and is used by airliners including Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines and KLM. St Barts Airport is very close by but is vastly different. Here, ‘very tight angles, hills, unusual wind conditions and the short runway’ make for a technically difficult runway approach.

Gibraltar Airport is owned by the Ministry of Defence and serves as a joint military/civil site. It is unusual in that a main road crosses the runway, which is closed to allow aircraft arrivals and departures to take place as normal. ‘The rock of Gibraltar looms large on the stunning approach, causing unusual wind patterns and turbulence’, PrivateFly says.
Airport Runway Approaches

Madeira Airport extends out over the sea, with a column-mounted runway section, while a large portion of the single passenger terminal is situated below ground level. London City, meanwhile, offers a ‘highly scenic approach over world-famous London landmarks’ and a airport runway approach that’s markedly steeper and more spectacular than at other airports, while Nepal’s Lukla Airport sits over 9,000 above sea level, has a sloping runway and can only accept the smallest and highest-performance passenger aircraft types. ‘With a sheer rock face of hundred metres high at the end of the runway, there is no margin for error’, PrivateFly explains.

The last two sites in the best airports list couldn’t be more contrasting. Las Vegas McCarran blends natural desert surroundings with central, illuminated lustre, while Scotland’s Barra Airport is unique in the world in being situated on a beach. ‘Visitors and cockle-pickers share use of the beach, with signs asking them to observe the windsock to see if the airport is in operation’, PrivateFly writes.

Navigating through Airport Security with a little dignity

Ask yourself; is this the posture of a free man?

The original concept of this article was conceived towards the end of my marathon journey vacation in 2009, which ended as I arrived to London Heathrow to see a rather disturbing sign, posted just prior to the Immigration check, with these telling and unwelcoming words...

"Tougher checks take longer"

What has travel come to? My instant reaction at the time was to resist and say to myself "this statement is only true in a disorganized system with insufficient trained staff and advanced techniques to manage the flow of people". The years that followed demonstrated that despite the extra security checks and the ensuing dehumanization security process we are all subjected to on a regular basis, our safety or even the perception of it has not improved one jot!

The reality of the matter is that the vast majority of travellers never asked for extra checks in the first place and many believe a more intelligent approach should be adopted, which would avoid every senior citizen or child being over processed. Moreover there are other less intrusive ways to counter the over-stated and under-proved liquid threat.

The above reality statement sums up the curse of travelling today, which treats civilized decent normal people like cattle and empowers often low-paid Security staff to control and check us like convicted criminals. Security staff are notoriously rude in many airports across the world and the whole experience is a huge inconvenience at best, apart from being wholly unpleasant.

The sad fact of the matter, is that there is no way to completely turn this around as a mere traveller, however there are a number of measures one can take to minimize the inconvenience and emotional damage caused. This article gives you a few pointers…

1. Don't stand out
Immigration, Customs and Security all treat anything out of the ordinary as suspicious, so as an otherwise innocent traveller, make sure you do not wear or do anything that attracts unwarranted attention, or else it could increase your inconvenience risk factor, meaning you may well be searched or questioned, seemingly from the standpoint that you are guilty until you proven innocent.

Here are some classic mistakes that people make...

A. Eye Contact
Never wear sunglasses within the confines of the airport or especially when coming into contact with officials of any creed. Open eye contact on first impact is important to create the right first impression of openness and innocence. So if you wear sunglasses regardless of what the weather is like outside and even if the airport is primarily a glass structure, it will only serve to indicate that you may potentially want to hide something.

On the topic of eye contact when passing through customs do not make direct eye-to-eye contact with officials and do not look away either. Instead focus your vision on the exit or way out. Regarding Security officials take the same stance and focus on the pathway to the exit. For Immigration officials maintain eye contact when they are checking your passport, but of course do not stare. Similarly at the check-in maintain eye contact too and follow the directions indicated in the conversation section below.

In general when walking around zones where officials frequent, maintain your vision upwards above head height, but not to the sky. Avoid looking down and looking around too much unless it’s at indication signs or flight listing screens.

B. Walking
When walking in monitored areas, it’s strongly advisable to walk at a medium to slow pace (never walk too quickly or for that matter too slowly either). Reason being, is that irregular walking activity will be considered as unusual, meaning you may be targeted for questioning. It happened to me once! I arrived to Miami from Venezuela and urgently had to collect my luggage, pick up a car and drive to Orlando (4 hours away) for a meeting. Mindful of the fact there are generally long queues to pass through US Immigration, I naturally rushed from the plane to the Immigration area. A plain clothed officer stopped me in my tracks and took me aside for questioning. Of course I was innocent, but it took 20 minutes of interrogation style questioning to demonstrate the obvious, which lost my place in the queue and subsequently caused an hour wait at the Immigration, as many flights arrived simultaneously just after mine. I was forced to learn the hard way!

With respect to posture, its best not to bury your head in the ground and look down too much, as it’s like showing you are avoiding something. Try to show reasonably good posture confidence by walking upright without slouching, which shows you are open and not nervous about anything.

C. Clothing
Needless to say, you should not wear anything weird, wacky, offensive or overly colorful that attracts unwarranted attention to yourself. Your clothing should be conservative and leaning towards smart casual, always blending in with the people on the flight you are taking (give special consideration to long haul charters). For example if you are on a business flight to New York and you are dressed like a Japanese Tourist with cameras hanging form your neck or a new age traveller, your percentage risk of being stopped will be far greater. In contrast, if you purchased a Charter flight from London Gatwick to Orlando with Thomson Fly and you are dressed in a suit and tie, again you are likely to be stopped. Many customs officials are already scanning you at the baggage reclaim via cameras or even directly, depending upon the airport.

I once flew to Orlando for a business meeting from London Gatwick dressed in a suit, as I had to meet the contact at the airport. Sure enough I was stopped and questioned thoroughly!

2. Managing Conversations
Here it’s important to know when to speak and when shut up! Generally when dealing with officials its best not to stimulate any kind of conversation, so that you are not subject to unnecessary automatic cold profiling. If an Immigration officer, Customs official or Security guard, asks you a question then answer it honestly, but in as few words as possible. Do not chat or volunteer additional information, as it may open you up to yet more questions. It seems that many officials possess the skill of making one feel like a criminal, by their tone of voice and body language, so don’t prolong the agony. Officials have the power to detain you, embarrassingly uncover all your personal possessions for all to see, repossess your computers, mobiles, tablets etc, and generally make life difficult depending where you are on the planet, so the less said the better!

At the check-in, it’s a completely different case scenario. Here you need to be a little chattier! If you would like to get an upgrade or a good seat, your goal is convince the check-in assistant that you are the ideal profile to upgrade. As you approach the desk, open a conversation with a broad smile and ask how are you today? Then comment positively on what you see around you. If it’s busy, show empathy for their work etc. Ask key questions like is the plane full? Is it on time? If you get a response (note that you should be seeking engagement to demonstrate empathy) like yes the plane is totally packed, don’t sigh or moan, show understanding and be extra nice, as your chances of getting to the business seat have just increased, because upgrade to Business normally occur when Economy is full! Don’t be afraid to politely ask “what are the chances of going business?” If the plane is delayed, the check-in assistant cannot do anything about it, so be kind, as it may help you gain some emotional leverage if your baggage is just a little overweight or to obtain a seat in the EXIT row.


Apart from the horrendous US arrival Immigration experience, whereby all visitors have to leave fingerprints and have their pictures recorded in largely inhuman ambience, by far the worst part of traveling overall is passing through the dreaded Security check. Here are some tips to minimize the damage…

1. Wear slip on shoes with no metal buckles or tips
In the US, UK, Middle East and parts of Asia where you are required to take off your shoes, it will make life easier to slip them on and off. No metal parts on your shoes will avoid the alarm going off, to prevent taking your shoes off in many parts of Europe and other parts of the planet, where it is not automatically compulsory.

2. Wear a Jacket and keep your personal items there
Your Jacket can securely store your Mobile, Passport, Wallet, Coins, Watch and other metal items. You can put your Jacket through the X-Ray scanner in a tray with all your items safe in one place. Theft at airports in the Security area is commonplace in some countries, so this is an important counter measure. The deeper your pockets the better, especially those with zips or buttons. My own travel Jacket is custom-made for extra Security.

3. Wear comfortable partly elasticized or stretch trousers
By doing this you avoid wearing a belt, which you would otherwise have to take off and put on again. Alternatively you can but a new carbon only belt designed to pass through security without a hitch.

Alternatively, if you have the cash buy a new Carbon Belt. I even managed to get through Heathrow Terminal 5 without taking my carbon Belt belt off and no alarms were set off!

4. Prepare in advance your liquids in a see through bag
You could lose valuable places at the entrance of the Security queue if this bag is not prepared in advance. Write in a marker pen 100ml on all your liquid bottles, to show you know the rule.

5. Use a Laptop cover
Do not let people see your Laptop! By using a skin cover you protect your Laptop from scratches and it prevents thieves easily seeing what make it is. Apple Mac and Sony Vaio are in greatest demand from opportunist thieves.

In essence your core objective should be to avoid dressing and undressing in addition to the hassle of undoing belts and tying shoelaces, as all your attention should be focused on being vigilant about your personal valuables and avoiding extra inconvenient Security checks.

I do not expect the airport experience to get better any time soon, so I hope the above tips come in useful. When one takes 100 flights a year, such measures take the negative edge of the process.

Travel safe and be prepared!

Grant Holmes
Editor, Perpetual Traveller

British demand for Irish Passports surge as Post Brexit looms

The volume of European Union burgundy-colored passports issued by the Republic of Ireland reached record proportions in 2017.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin indicated that it received some 785,026 passport applications in 2017 and duly processed the majority of applications by issuing 779,184.

The rationale for this upsurge is believed to be some kind of Post-Brexit interest for Irish passports, as 1 person in 5 of the notable 779,000 Irish passports issued this year by the Republic will end up in the hands of people living in Britain.

It would therefore be fair to assume that many of these British applications desire the right to maintain EU status, and as such, live in one of the remaining 27 EU member countries. In some cases there may be a wish to have one foot in each side of Euro-zone to see how things pan out.

Here are the associated facts:
  • The Republic of Ireland issued 779,000 passports in 2017.
  • 81,752 passports were issued to people from Northern Ireland in 2017, up 20% year on year. 
  • 81,287 passports were issued to people from Britain issued in 2017, up 28% year on year.
  • Prior to Brexit, the Republic of Ireland issued on average 50,000 Irish passports to British subjects each year.
People born in Northern Ireland have an automatic right to Irish citizenship, while British people with an Irish parent, or in certain circumstances an Irish grandparent, also have an automatic right to become Irish citizens.

More Information: Applying for your first Irish Passport

The World’s Worst Tourism Slogans

It seems like every country or region in the world these days is a "Wanna Be" when it comes to Tourism. New market are constantly opening with new authorities getting in on the act. This in turn points a lot of people that don't really know what they are doing along with some spectacularly bad slogans!

Here are s few World's Worst contenders:
  1. Hilton: “Travel should take you places” - Indeed it should, but for a major Hotel chain it's rather a pointless statement. Perhaps Travel could “take you some place fascinating”. One only wonders how many people stayed at the Hilton because "Travel should take you places?". 
  2. Fargo, North Dakota’s “Always Warm!” - They are having a laugh! Anyone that has actually been there knows it’s warm in the summer and hellish cold for the remainder of the year. Perhaps this slogan was referring to the Hospitality, however  it does not say that!
  3. British Colombia’s  “The Best Place on Earth” - Words like ambitious come to mind or even arrogant. In reality such over-stated slogans are for what of better words and reflect a sincere lack of thought.
  4. “Andalucia. There’s only one.” - This would  be the same for every single Tourism region on the planet, which demonstrates the senseless nature of this slogan. 
  5. Annapolis, Maryland’s “Come Sail Away” - This slogan is effectively inviting visitors to come and leave, presumably by boat. Such a slogan may potentially work for a Cruise Line, but does not wash for Maryland.
  6. “Wales. The Big Country” - Sorry to say for all Welsh people, but Canada is a relatively big country and dwarfs Wales. So does China, India, Brazil, Russia, Australia, the US and many others. What were they thinking for a country within a country! 
  7. Indonesia's national slogan for "Visit Indonesia Year" in 2008: "Indonesia. Celebrating 100 years of nation's awakening". Here there is an obvious issue with the English in addition to the fact it sounds like the country just woke up!
We challenge all readers to help us find some more really awful slogans!
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