Want to know how to travel in style, just like the pros? We check in with frequent fliers to find out how often they fly, their favorite destinations and what they never leave home without.
Name: Chris McGinnis
Occupation: Multimedia travel correspondent & consultant
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Residence: San Francisco, CA
Facebook: Chris McGinnis
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Bio: Chris McGinnis has tracked travel trends since 1989 in a variety of roles such as business travel columnist for BBC.com and travel correspondent on CNN Headline News. He is the founder of the popular TravelSkills blog and TravelSkills chat. He now blogs about frequent travel on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, SFgate, and contributes to youmustbetrippin.com. He’s also a regular contributor and commentator on CNN, HLN and Fox News as well as a speaker, a consultant and the author of two books on business travel.
How often do you fly? About twice a month.
How many countries have you been to? Hmm. Counting the dots on the world map on the wall in my office, it’s about 40.
How many continents have you been to? All except Antarctica.
Favorite American city? Boulder, Colorado.
Favorite international city? Since I’m in the travel biz, people always expect me to name some exotic location, but when asked this question, my mind goes straight to LONDON. I’ve probably been there 20 times, but each time I seem to find something new, exciting or just oddly and interestingly British. Runner up: Cape Town.
Least favorite country? Those that force me to apply for a visa to get in.
Favorite airline? That’s easy—my hometown carrier Virgin America. I don’t think most San Franciscans realize how lucky we are to have a trendsetter like Virgin in our own backyard.
Favorite aircraft type? The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental—what a great body!
Aisle or window? As a business traveler, most folks think I’m an aisle guy…but no. I’m a window freak and love looking out at the topography to figure out exactly where we are. Have you ever seen Utah’s canyons at sunset, or the Japanese fishing fleet at dawn from 35,000 feet? Wow.
Favorite airport lounge? Airport lounges everywhere are getting major makeovers, which is great. My current favorite is Cathay Pacific’s cool white-marble-sheathed beauty at San Francisco International—with its chef-staffed noodle bar. Runner up would be the Qantas’ business class lounge at Sydney.
Favorite U.S. airport? I love the smaller airports in California like Oakland, Burbank or Long Beach where you can park out front, cross the street and walk to your plane.
Favorite international airport? British Airways’ Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, which feels like the center of the universe to me.
Favorite hotel? Too many to mention! My favorite so far this year is the new Corinthia Hotel in London. Prior to that, perhaps my best hotel stay ever was on the concierge level at the Shangri-La in Tokyo, which I was lucky enough to enjoy with my partner and 80-year-old parents (who had a room down the hall).
Favorite cruise line? I had a ball when Johnny Jet invited me to go with him to the christening of Seabourn’s Sojourn in the middle of the Thames in London where I saw more champagne and caviar than ever before. But honestly, I don’t cruise enough to have an opinion.
Favorite island? Puerto Rico. I lived there for two years and always love to go back to see how much it’s changed…and how much it’s remained the same.
Favorite fancy restaurant? Too many to name…most memorable recently was a delicious dinner at The Mark restaurant in New York—Barbara Walters sat at the next table, and was joined by Oscar de la Renta for dessert. Martha Stewart sat across the room.
Favorite hole in the wall? The Colonnade in Atlanta, where I always go for my southern fried chicken fix.
Favorite travel movie(s): Prior to my career in travel, I was a management consultant who flew to and from work weekly, so it would have to be Up in the Air—I could completely relate to the lonely plight of Ryan Bingham.
Favorite travel show(s): House Hunters International!
Favorite travel book(s): “The Drifters” by James Michener.
Five things you bring on a plane? For long distance flights: I always wear a shirt with a pocket, bring along my own Bucky eye mask, ear plugs, sleeping pills, and pen & paper in my pocket to jot down notes and observations I might forget once we land.
What do you always seem to forget? I always forget to give the card key back when I check out at hotels.
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): I have an Android smartphone because T-Mobile (which I find best for international travel) does not have the iPhone yet. I get irritated that iPhone gets all the cool travel apps first.
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: The time I was booked for three nights at the gorgeous Hotel de Crillon in Paris, but could not truly enjoy it because I caught the norovirus on my flight over to Paris, and was sick for two days. But the hotel rallied, with room service bringing me a large pot of chicken broth every day, and serving it to me bedside with a silver ladle. I’ll never forget that.
What’s your dream destination? Bali. I’ve never been, and only hear wonderful, peaceful things about the place.
Favorite travel website(s)—besides JohnnyJet.com, of course! As a creator and contributor to many, I should probably pass on this question.
Best travel tip: Each business trip should have a non-business goal—such as finding an unusual souvenir at a local market, catching up with an old friend, trying an exotic local delicacy (or just the best slice of pie), or having a suit made. Force yourself out into your destination and don’t hole up in your hotel focused on your emails.
Thanks JJ! This was fun to write and I love seeing it on your site!