Welcome to a new Sunday series that will be a bit like a fireside chat. I count it a privilege to be a part of an amazing group of Travel bloggers here at BoardingArea.com. But just how well do you know “your” BoardingArea writers? Are you reading all the blogs you should be each day? This series will help you get to know them one by one. Now on to this weeks chat.
BoardingArea is growing. Randy Petersen is adding bloggers from around the world. But a long time blogger, not based in the USA is AJ. AJ has flown literally hundreds of thousands of miles and spent almost 1000 hour on planes. When you fly that much, how could your blog NOT be called Live From A Lounge. Do you travel around India, Asia and Europe? You should get to know AJ! Let sit down and find out more about this week’s blogger – AJ!
Rene – Hi AJ, thanks so much for playing with crazy time zones for a chat. You have been here at BoardingArea for a long time. I love your posts even though they don’t always apply to me but learning tips from seasoned flyers is always great to me. So what moved you to start blogging and who do you see as your “typical” reader?
AJ – I’ve been flying a long time, however, I noticed the tools to travel, such as FlyerTalk and BoardingArea a few years into my travel life. As someone who traveled regularly around India at the drop of a hat, and later over to Europe and Asia, I learned some tricks of the trade along the way. When I first came across FlyerTalk, I was just looking to see how was someone I knew getting a massive 25% off on IHG branded hotels. And Google led me to FlyerTalk for answers. I found it to be a community of like minded individuals, and I was hooked.
Sometime later, I discovered Ben’s blog at BoardingArea, and then Gary’s. And once I spent some time looking over BoardingArea I wondered why was there no such blog from the other side of the world. I wrote to Randy and we connected over these crazy timezones. We set up the blog in no time once Randy was convinced that we could work to create new resources for half way across the world.
As for my typical reader, I started with trying to be all over the place in Asia and Europe. I still keep an eye on everything, but I have to admit there is so much happening in India in the loyalty and travel space right now, that it has me excited all the time to see the various angles around here.
Rene – How exciting. I think many readers would love to visit ½ of the places you have been on your side of the planet. I have so many questions but first staying with Indian travel. Do you have a favorite airline alliance you blog about and airlines that are unique to India?
AJ – I started traveling on work about 7-8 years back. At that point of time there were only 2 major domestic airlines in India, Indian Airlines (now Air India) and Jet Airways. I started with both of them, and now my affinities are clearly with Jet Airways which has a very good product for Indian travelers. So, you’d see a lot about them on my blog. But there are so many other airlines in India that I regularly track about, such as Indigo, Spice Jet and the others.
As for airline alliances, I love OneWorld and the airlines they have on board. While they are not the biggest carrier alliance from India, I still love the consistent product they offer. I expect to chat a lot more about Star Alliance in the future once they have a local airline (Air India) inside the alliance as well.
Rene – I think so many readers need to follow you for your insight. What about hotels? I see your trip reports are extensive and that you have been featured on CNN, MoneyLife and Conde Nast Traveller India . But that goes toward hotel chains. Is it best when visiting India to look toward a chain or are we better off venturing off the beaten path so to speak?
AJ – India has some great hotel chains of its own, such as the Taj and the Oberoi groups, which went on to build hotels across the world after building luxury properties around India. Also, Aman is owned by an Indian company at the moment. The chains have realized that they need to step up their presence in India, and are now starting to work on expanding presence here for the past few years. I see announcements of 30 or 50 new properties by next 3 years by Starwood, Hilton and others in India every now and then. So, over a period of time chains will get a good presence in India as well, but if you are holidaying here, you’re better off looking for some Indian properties.
Rene – Oh I could do this all day long but I think it is best for readers to follow you on your blog at this point. But more about AJ. I see you have love for photography and Formula One. We could so get along for a week or two on holiday (that’s vacation for us in the states btw)! What fun can we look forward to seeing on the blog in 2014?
AJ – When I was first able to get to Singapore to watch the inaugural night race in the history of F1, it had me hooked. I’ve gone back a couple of times to see it again. I’m hoping to catch some of the other races live from the racetrack in the coming years as well. As for photography, I’ve stuck with the iPhone now for a while because it is a very good camera (amongst other things) and I can click a picture anywhere. So, in 2014 I am hoping to report back more of those instances here. Also, I am trying to devote some time to launching a local language frequent flyer blog as well focused on India, which should be able to help more people to get access to travel news and tips. Let’s hope that works out.
Rene – Exciting! Well I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to get to know AJ a bit better. I cannot wait to keep up with all that is Live From A Lounge over the next few months!
AJ – Rene, thank you for setting this up at such short notice. I am just about getting to put my feet on the table for the rest of the year that is 2013, after all the days spent in hotel rooms and at airports. And I am glad I was able to chat with you on travel, which excites me no ends!
You can follow AJ on his blog at BoardingArea, on Twitter as well as Instagram, Facebook and via RSS feed. Have some questions for AJ, he even has a tab for that on the blog! Be sure and check back next week for another visit from your BA bloggers! – René
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