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: Ramsey Qubein
Occupation: Travel Journalist
Hometown: High Point, NC
Residence: High Point and Charlotte, NC
Bio: Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist and correspondent for Northstar Travel Media covering the hotel and airline industry from every corner of the globe. He has traveled to 127 countries (many more than two dozen times) and lived in both Madrid and Paris. His work has appeared in numerous consumer and industry publications including Travel+Leisure, Business Traveller, Singapore Airlines’ Silver Kris, and US Airways magazines. He is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and completed a Master’s Degree thesis researching various aspects of marketing/branding in the travel industry. Ramsey is highly recognized as an expert in travel loyalty programs, business travel and the luxury travel segment. He is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio programs and contributor to USA Today, Fox News, BBC, Frommers, and AirfareWatchdog articles. For more information, visit RamseyQ.com
How often do you fly? 350,000-400,000 miles per year
How many countries have you been to? (Rough estimate if you aren’t sure) 127
How many continents have you been to? Six
Favorite American city? High Point, NC (Home Furnishings Capital of the World and home of High Point University)
Favorite international city? Madrid, Barcelona, Venice, Paris
Least favorite country? Honduras
Favorite airline? Delta Air Lines (although their frequent flyer program is not the best, but they treat loyal flyers very well); I also like Lufthansa’s first class service and Turkish Airline’s business class service.
Favorite aircraft type? Airbus A-330 (it just looks really beautiful); The Airbus A-380 is such an ugly airplane from the outside.
Aisle or window? Window…ALWAYS a window.
Favorite airport lounge? Lufthansa Towers Lounge at Frankfurt Airport (terminal A); Forget finding a place to sit during the morning rush, but it has the most amazing aerial views of airplanes that no lounge in the world can replicate.
Favorite U.S. airport? My local one: Greensboro/High Point, NC. Security is super easy; staff knows you by name; and we still have flights to most major hubs in the U.S. making it a traveler’s best friend. Love having an airline club to use there too!
Favorite international airport? Paris CDG (while it’s a disaster to transit through on short connections), there is just no helping a feeling of worldliness passing through the retro terminals. I also like Frankfurt, Atlanta, and Detroit.
Favorite hotel? Any airport hotel where I can watch the comings and goings of planes from my room. Top choices include Sheraton Frankfurt Airport, Sheraton Paris CDG Airport, Hilton Los Angeles LAX Airport, and Renaissance Atlanta Airport.
Favorite cruise line? Royal Caribbean
Favorite island? Sir Bani Yas Island (off the coast of Abu Dhabi, UAE) Very private (just one resort), and rare animals like oryx and giraffe at every turn.
Favorite fancy restaurant? Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees in Paris
Favorite hole in the wall? Cosmic Cantina (Mexican) Chapel Hill, NC
Favorite travel show(s): Amazing Race (although the mismatched airport/airplane scenes are hilarious to someone in the know!)
Five things you bring on a plane? Laptop for work, magazines to read and give to the crew (or throw away), bottle of water, global timetable (yes, they still print those for a price: SkyGuide by Amex and OAG), and iPhone to snap quick photos and check email during boarding
What do you always seem to forget? My iPhone (I just cannot seem to hold onto that expensive thing)
Favorite travel iPhone app(s): Airline apps like Delta and United that show upgrade standby lists and last-minute flight updates
Most embarrassing/worst travel moment: Running through any airport sweating it to make a flight. You lose all sense of dignity especially when you run up to an empty gate.
What’s your dream destination? Right now? The Stans…(Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, etc). My goal is to visit every country in the world; these are tougher because they require advance visas and are not the easiest to get to on a normal travel itinerary. So right now, they are on my dream list! (Well, you asked, haha!)
Favorite travel website(s) – besides JohnnyJet.com, of course!: FlyerTalk.com or Airliners.net
Best travel tip: Always ask the gate agent (when they are not busy) if there is a free seat next to you. If not, ask to move to one where there is an adjacent open seat. This tip has allowed me to travel on more than 50% of flights with an empty seat next to me giving me extra space no matter what cabin class I am traveling. If you are polite and patient, agents are more than happy to help (do not approach them if they are overwhelmed though).
Great interview! Ramsey, I LOVE your travel tip. Brilliant.