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Air travel can be confusing and frustrating. At the same time, the world of commercial flying is absolutely fascinating. In each episode, this podcast will answer your questions and explore different topics to expand your horizons and make you a smarter and savvier air traveler. Whether you are looking to make the most of your next flying experience or are a naturally curious learner who wants to know more about how air travel works, Flying Smarter is the podcast for you.
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Travelling Concepts on Air

Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle-Leyh

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This podcast series questions the promise and ideal of interdisciplinarity by looking at travelling concepts: concepts that travel within and across academic disciplines. The two Utrecht University- based hosts - Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh - will invite two scholars each month to discuss a particular concept and explore how, if, and why such concepts have travelled.
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In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at how you can get your Global Entry or NEXUS membership revoked. Then he explores Tokyo’s two international airports, looking at what you need to know about each of the facilities. A listener sent in a question asking how your Global Entry can be revoked. Learn about the different ways that this can end up…
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It's Alex and Paul, and it's another Alex (you've met her in 133!). She tells us all about BeOnd, the new all business class airlines that flies ex-EasyJet (!) 319s (!) to get you to the Maldives (did she enjoy the plane more than the beach?!). Humane versus non-humane low cost carriers: a new definition for IATA? The MAX flying challenge, or how t…
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In this episode, former flight attendant Ally Murphy joins Andrew to share fascinating stories and lessons from the skies. But first, Andrew talks about requalifying for elite status. How does requalifying for elite status in an airline’s loyalty program work? Different airlines have different requirements, with some making it easier for existing s…
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Paul is joined by Paolo, one his best friends, to compare notes on a big tour of Cambodia and Vietnam (Paul flew to Cambodia, Paolo flew to Vietnam and Cambodia) with many airports, and airlines along the way (not sure about the water on-board a Cambodia Angkor Air). Paul had his worst fly ever (it was no fault of Etihad, just his own!!) and circle…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about the longest domestic flights in the world. Then for the main segment, he looks at airline loyalty program status. There are domestic flights out there that are over ten hours long. And the longest regularly scheduled flight ever was a domestic route. Learn more in this episode. What is airline sta…
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This episode starts by looking at why you shouldn’t inflate your life jacket until you are about to leave the aircraft. Andrew then talks with Edmond Huot about airline design and branding. Why are we told not to inflate our life jackets until we are about to exit the plane? There are some important reasons that could mean the difference between li…
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In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at whether you can get your expired points and miles back. Then he talks about aviation safety, looking at recent incidents and news as well as the bigger historical picture. If your points and miles are expired, can you get them back? Learn more about reinstating your points in this episode. There has been…
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This episode features the second part of Andrew’s chat with aircraft maintenance engineer and professor Brian Bermudez. Plus, he looks at whether your points and miles will expire. Do your points and miles expire? If you’re collecting airline loyalty points, you will want to know the answer to this question. With some loyalty programs, the points n…
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Is Emirates low key encouraging membership to the high mile club? (And how Alex and Layovers saved Paul's Emirates First upgrade. The controller goes "oh that sucks", or why Alex keeps listening to ground whilst traveling (but he always gets the last bag delivery ever). Lounge bouncers (not exactly, but lounge double dipping is a thing). Going agai…
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about airline flight numbers. The main segment for this episode features aircraft maintenance technician and professor Brian Bermudez. How do flight numbers get assigned? It depends, but there are some common practices and conventions. Learn more about how airlines choose their flight numbers in this episode. A…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about what the different cabin class names mean. Then he looks at round-the-world tickets and how you can take a trip around the globe. Club World, Delta One, Signature Class, and Mint. These are all names of airlines’ lie-flat business class products. What’s with all the different names? What does the …
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Qatar'd? No, that new Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha is stunning — one thing we can't say about that RAK one. Turkish'd? Not really, when a downgrade gets you full emergency exit rows — though that 333 seat made Paul act like an animal. Boeing has gone full MAX for its windows openings (ok, ok, poor one, but come on Boeing, do better!) — the new 350-100…
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This episode starts by looking at why involuntary downgrades happen and what to do if you get involuntary downgraded. Andrew then talks to airline captain Doug Morris about aviation weather and how it affects your flight. Nobody likes purchasing a premium cabin ticket and then being downgraded to a worse seat. Why might this happen and what should …
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about how much airliners weigh and important takeaways from recent aviation incidents. Then he looks at the international organizations that exist to keep the world of air travel functioning seamlessly. It’s no secret that the aircraft that we fly on are massive, but how much do they actually weigh? Andrew delv…
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In this episode, Andrew starts by looking at how you can fly on the world’s largest airliner – the Airbus A380 – these days. The main segment features Expedia travel expert Christie Hudson who is here to share data-driven air hacks and travel trends. Have you ever wanted to fly on the Airbus A380? Nicknamed the superjumbo, it’s the largest passenge…
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This is the second part of our 2023 year-in-review. Our guests from throughout the year are sharing their travel tips and insights in a series of previously unaired clips. What are some essential items to pack according to a flight attendant? Episode 30 guest Lara Ketterman shares her thoughts. What is the Southwest Companion Pass? Episode 36/37 gu…
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Flying Smarter is celebrating 50 episodes! This episode contains some special announcements as well as the first part of our 2023 year-in-review. What training do flight attendants get for dealing with panicked passengers? Former flight attendant and Episode 45 guest Carrie Bradley answers this question in this episode. Air traffic controller Andy …
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Alex tells us all about his return to Hong Kong, with Cathay setting a new gold standard in IFE over Emirates (Greg flew China Southern, and, errr, well). Paul flies the all business class 321neo from La Compagnie from Orly to Newark (road traffic was key to that story, but traffic there is none to board, how crazily fast is that, kudos La Compagni…
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about why we board and deplane from the left side of the aircraft. Afterwards, the main segment of this episode features law professor Ganesh Sitaraman, who joins Andrew to talk about why flying is miserable and what we can do about it from a regulatory perspective. In the last episode, we talked a lot about bo…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about whether you can sleep overnight in an airport terminal. Then he looks at the different ways we board and deplane our flights. Can you sleep overnight in an airport terminal? The answer depends on where you are and there are a lot of factors at play. Some airports have facilities to help travelers …
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This episode starts by looking at how to ensure that you are within your baggage allowances so that you avoid surprise fees at the airport. Andrew then talks to ramp agent Tyler Crook to get a look at what goes on outside your plane on the airport ramp. Have you ever been surprised by extra bags fees at the airport? Or have you had a carry on that …
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So small, cozy, cute, a very special airport, that was Tegel, not BER: can the finally (nearly) finished Berlin Brandenburg measure up to the "poor but sexy" German capital? At least the cleverly named lounges have an even cleverer backdoor (and, hey, it's not a poor bus station like Schoenfeld). Bundling the unbundling: a (great) rant by Alex (Hun…
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In this episode, Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh discuss the concept of LABOUR together with Prof. Dr. Rutger Claassen (Political Philosophy and Economic Ethics) and Dr. Martijn Smit (Economic Geography). Learn more about the podcast on our website. There, you can find a list of literature and other recommendations that are made each epis…
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Join hosts Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh on the finale episode of Travelling Concepts on Air. In this special episode, Tessa and Brianne reflect on the past three seasons, discuss insights and experiences, and contemplate the podcast's journey. Learn more about the podcast on our website. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and In…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about where airliners are assembled. Then he looks at schedule changes and how to deal with them. The planes that we fly are on are huge and aircraft manufacturers therefore have massive facilities to produce them. Find out where these aircraft assembly facilities are located around the world. Did you k…
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Paul tries multiple Italian airports, Alex finally visits the new Istanbul (and flies Turkish for the first time!). The passport blowing border official trick (it doesn't work better than the Super NES cartridge blowing). BA will soon introduce water bottles the size of mini bar vodkas (at least it seems so). The Magical Finnish hippos, another fir…
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about airline seat map websites. The main segment for this episode features family travel expert and former flight attendant Carrie Bradley. Where can you find airline seat maps? The ones provided by the airlines often don’t have much information. Learn about third-party websites that provide valuable details a…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about why airplane cabins are so dry and what you can do about it. Then he looks at the lasting impacts of the 9/11 attacks on air travel today. Why do aircraft cabins feel so dry? If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not wrong. Find out why this is the case and what you can do about it in this episode.…
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Andrew starts by talking about why fares are so cheap in Europe when compared to North America. Then, the main segment for this episode looks at how you can avoid getting bumped from your flight. Why are fares in Europe cheaper than those in North America? It comes down to a bunch of factors, including geography and government legislation. Learn mo…
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Combini, tamago sando, Skyliner, vending machines, ekiben, baseball Suica cards, yes we discuss Japan, where Alex was earlier this summer. And yes we talk (err, Alex talks) about air travel too, British Airways, Southwest, Hawaiian, ANA, and, drumroll, Zipair — not in that order, and with hops at London Heathrow, San Jose, San Francisco, Tokyo Nari…
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This episode of Flying Smarter starts off by talking about Real ID and which plane has lavatories on the cargo hold level. Aviation writer and video producer Joey Gerardi then joins Andrew to talk about the United States Essential Air Service. In the last episode of Flying Smarter, we covered trusted traveler programs including Global Entry. A list…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about the future of jumbo jets. Then he looks at trusted traveler programs that can help you save time at the airport. The Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 are both out of production, so what is the future of jumbo jets? Listen to what Andrew has to say in response to this listener question. Want to save time…
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Kyle Potter, Executive Editor at Thrifty Traveler, all-around awesome(ly smart) dude, Hello Kitty enthusiast (well, it's that EVA Air flight, you'll see!), and (very) long time Layovers listener and friend, tells us all about why MSP is the best thing ever, like everything in Minnesota — but also whether cheap travel is still possible in the curren…
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Andrew starts by talking about whether or not you should build your own connection. Then, the main segment for this episode looks at the airports of New York City. Should you book connecting flights on two separate tickets? This is a practice that could save you money when booking your flight but also comes with substantial risks. This episode take…
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This episode starts by looking at which planes have an upper deck. Andrew then talks with air traffic controller Andy Watson to get an inside look at what goes on inside the world of air traffic control. Have you ever seen a double-decker aircraft? Or have you ever been on one? Find out how to tell what they are in this episode. Andy Watson shares …
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In this episode, Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh discuss the concept of BORDER together with Dr. Ilse van Liempt (Urban Geography) and Dr. Özge Bilgili (interdisciplinary social science) Learn more about the podcast on our website. There, you can find a list of literature and other recommendations that are made each episode. You can also …
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We flew to Geneva to record an episode of Attaché (now on YouTube, link below), so how were our flights, and what did we think of the airport (the new C-Gates are excellent, the time at immigration not always). Does too much info add unnecessary travel stress? (Aka Flighty is Paul's IFE of choice in lounges). Is Covid wear and tear a thing? Some ai…
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In this episode, Andrew talks about why flights often don’t divert to the nearest airport. For the main segment, he looks at the story of the infamous Boeing 737 MAX. Why do flights sometimes divert to an airport that hours away? Doesn’t make it the most sense to land at the nearest airport? There are lots of considerations that go into diversions.…
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This episode has the second part of a two-part discussion about travel hacking and budget travel with Kendyl Grender. In this episode, Andrew continues his talk with her, covering points and miles, how budget travel can include luxury experiences, and more. Plus, he looks at airplane age. How old is the plane that you’re flying on? How do you find …
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Do you have a number? The saga of Alex trying to beat boarding time at Lisbon (you won't believe he, of all people, made that mistake). A completely charming SWISS cheese board on-board (and cows in the Zurich airport train). Etihad 2.0 are quietly great, a tasteful experience we appreciate (and flying over the Arabian Gulf is a sight to be seen), …
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In this episode, Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh discuss the concept of EFFICIENCY together with Dr. Matteo Gazzani (Thermodynamic) and Dr. Coco Kanters (Economic Anthropology). Learn more about the podcast on our website. There, you can find a list of literature and other recommendations that are made each episode. You can also find us o…
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Andrew starts this episode by talking about birds in airport terminals. The main segment for this episode is the first part of a conversation with Kendyl Grender, a budget traveler and creator of Kendyl Travels. Have you ever seen a bird flying around the interior of an airport terminal? Learn about why this is fairly common and what airports do ab…
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In this episode, Andrew talks about an essential piece of airport infrastructure: runways. Plus, he looks at airline codes. In Episode 33, we covered airline codes. But what about airline codes? Learn more in this episode. Did you know that there’s a secretive US government airline that flies people to places like Area 51? Find out about this airli…
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Alex gets lost at JFK T8, only to encounter crazy turbulences over the Atlantic (a future worsening trend). But how did he get there? Finally testing what Paul did in 2021, the Mint Studio — a hope for the future of long haul narrow bodies. Airfare prices are way up from 2019 (more than inflation!), is that temporary, or what prices will be, and sh…
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In this episode, Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh discuss the concept of INSTITUTIONS together with Prof. dr. Bas van Bavel (Social and Economic History) and Dr. Millicent Churcher (Social and Political Philosophy). Learn more about the podcast on our website. There, you can find a list of literature and other recommendations that are made…
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Andrew starts by talking about why flight deck doors are often open during boarding. The main segment for this episode features previously unaired clips from our 2022 guests. If you board through the front door of an aircraft, you may have noticed that you can often catch a glimpse of the cockpit through the open flight deck door. Why is this door …
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Andrew starts by talking about one of the aspects of flying that causes the most nervousness: turbulence. Then, the main segment for this episode looks at airport codes. Should we be afraid of turbulence? While turbulence can be nerve-wracking even for frequent flyers, there isn’t all that much to be worried about. Learn more in this episode and ch…
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This episode starts by looking at why you have to put your seat back and tray table up before landing. Andrew then talks with StatusMatch CEO and former airline loyalty program head Mark Ross-Smith about airline loyalty programs. Why do you have to put your seat back and tray table up before landing? It’s all about safety. Learn more in this episod…
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In this episode, Tessa Diphoorn and Brianne McGonigle Leyh discuss the concept of EXPERIMENT together with Prof. dr. ir. Vincent Buskens and Dr. Thijs Hagendijk. Learn more about the podcast on our website. There, you can find a list of literature and other recommendations that are made each episode. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and In…
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In this episode, Andrew starts off by talking about the dirtiest parts of a plane. Then he explores five unique air travel experiences, sharing some of the most interesting offerings out there. What are the dirtiest parts of a plane? Is it the lavatory or is it closer to where you’re sitting? Find out more in this episode. Did you know that there’s…
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