Tag Archives: avgeek

What Happened at ZorkFest Did Not Stay at ZorkFest

When we last chatted, you may remember I posted about the first-ever ZorkFest. This was a one-day event on Dec. 2 in Atlantic City where experts in travel and casino loyalty programs gave attendees the scoop on both. Created by TravelZork.com Founder Michael Trager, the event brought more than 100 attendees from across the country to Bally’s.

ZorkFest started the night before with an opening reception, where I got the chance to meet other attendees and share a cocktail. Fun fact: the casino enthusiasts were as interested in our #avgeek/travel proclivities as we were with their high roller ways. Michael held a private dinner for speakers and special guests, where I was seated across from Cousin Vito and his lovely wife.

Cousin Vito, who also did the opening remarks on Saturday, is one of the first in the country to create a podcast specifically targeting casino enthusiasts. He noted that the first time he ever gambled was at Atlantic City’s Tropicana when he was 17 and his cousin Mikey was 20. Wearing what he called “cheap suits,” they won playing the slot machine and decided to spend their earnings on caesar salads.

“It was one of the most memorable salads of my life because me and Mikey paid the bill on our own with our winnings,” he recalled. “With that little luck and cheap suits, we were able to create more than we ever imagined during that day in Atlantic City.”

Cousin Vito uses his podcast to help listeners make luck happen.  “Today you’re going to learn shortcuts to unlock casino awards. This first ZorkFest is a training camp for those aspiring for free rooms or even trips to Vegas,” he said. “You’ll learn ways to earn points more efficiently and maximize the return on investment.” This community has afforded me the opportunity to meet amazing people, he added.

The podcast is a way to share my love of casinos with everyone, said Cousin Vito. “The slogan of the show is “win more, lose less at the casino,'” he said. “It’s not about wining big, but about minimizing losses and maximizing your fun in the casinos.”

Podcast listeners love the show, saying it gives them the confidence to try different games, like craps, said Cousin Vito. “We make it OK to not gable a lot. You don’t need a big bankroll to have fun at the casino,” he said.

The Main Event

I’m not a gambler (but my ex is a high roller), so I was curious to learn about a group that was as passionate about their passion as the travel folks are about theirs. For my first session, I decided to stick with my avgeek travel side and go to Seth “Wandering Aramean” Miller’s presentation, “Maximize Miles & Points.” A few things I learned:

  • Seth is one of the original members of Flyer Talk;
  • He uses Hotels.com, HotelHustle.com and HotelsCombined.com for the best hotel deals; and
  • He uses SkyScanner, ITA Matrix and Google Flights to find the best airfares.

I also learned more than I ever imagined about travel, points, miles, and deals on credit cards from Angelina Aucello, a Newark, N.J.-based travel aficionado and expert who blogs at Angelina Travels. Sorry you all missed how she is now banned from Kohl’s for something she did to earn credit card miles that help her travel the world with her family (come to ZorkFest 2018 and maybe she’ll spill again).

So watch this space for details on ZorkFest 2018, which will be in Las Vegas, baby! I’ll see you there! And check out these other posts about ZorkFest 2017.

Miles To Memories
ZorkFest: Travel and Casino Loyalty Combined. Do Not Miss the Next One (Pics Included)
Vegas Confessions Podcast
Vegas Confessions Post Zorkfest…I think we survived!
Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast
E:66 Back from Atlantic City: A Zorkfest Trip Report

10 Things Every #AvGeek Should Do Before They Die

Having been an AvGeek since the age of six and an aviation journalist for 22 years, I have a fine sense of what every AvGeek should do before they die. Below is my list, with the caveat that not everyone will be able to do these things. But can’t we dream?

1.  Go inside a working FAA control tower. Back in November 2008, I was out at Washington Dulles International Airport for the opening of its fourth runway. As part of that visit, I got to go into the control tower with then-acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell. The views were amazing!


2.  Attend one of the three major air shows. I’ve covered Singapore, Farnborough and Paris. They are busy, spread out and just amazing, from the fantastic air shows (I got to see the last Air France Concorde land at the 2003 Paris Air Show), to the crush of press conferences to visits to company chalets (I still dream about the meals I had at the Airbus press chalets).

3.  Fly in a World War II aircraft. I attended a Honeywell media event where we were flown in a Boeing B29 Superfortress, where I got to sit in the bombardier seat. Awesome!!

4.  Do a behind-the-scenes airport tour. I’ve gotten to do several, including Hartsfield-Jackson, Los Angeles International, Washington National, Washington, Dulles, McCarran International, Phoenix Sky Harbor and Salt Lake City, to name a few. Seeing the inner workings of a baggage system and hanging out on the ramp are experiences not to be missed.

View from McCarran operations tower. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

5.  Sit in the jump seat on a commercial flight. Before 9/11, I got to do this several times, including: a Virgin Atlantic 747 taking off from London Heathrow; a Crossair Avro RJ landing at London City Airport; and a Continental Express Embraer ERJ-145 landing at Washington National Airport.

6.  Visit great air/aviation museums. Of course I’ve been to both Air & Space Museums in D.C. (I even got a sneak peek of the Udvar-Hazy Center on the day the Enola Gay arrived), the Swedish Air Force Museum, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the Pima Air & Space Museum, the Palm Springs Air Museum of Flying, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Jetwhine's Rob Mark at the Udvar-Hazy Center. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

7.  Do a ferry flight. Ferry flights are when airlines take delivery of new aircraft and fly them back home. I’ve done several flights from San Jose dos Campos, Brazil, to the U.S. (with stops in Belem and spots in the Caribbean including Martinique) to deliver ERJ-145s and a flight from Linkoping, Sweden, to Minneapolis-St. Paul via Iceland, Greenland (cold!) and Gander to deliver a Saab 340 turboprop to Mesaba Airlines.

8.  Attend the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This, kids, is the world’s largest air show. During the week of the show, Wittman Regional Airport becomes home to the world’s busiest air traffic control tower, handling more than 10,000 aircraft. See aircraft ranging from the Boeing 787 to a spectacular display of warbirds. Check out exhibits, air shows and vendors, and meet up with a who’s who in aviation. Remind me to tell you of my encounter with Capt. Sullenberger another time…

Photo by Benet J. Wilson

9.  Take a general aviation discovery flight. Back in the day, one of the reporters on my staff was a pilot, and she took me up in a Piper Cherokee to see the fall foliage over Virginia, and even let me fly. If you have Living Social or Groupon in your area, they always have discovery flight deals. If not, go to your local airport and ask the flight school to do a discovery flight.

10.  Fly in a hot air balloon. When I first became an aviation journalist, I attended the fall meeting of the Regional Airline Association, in Palm Springs. Bombardier hosted a media day, and a highlight was a hot air balloon trip over the valley of the sun.

10 Things You Will ONLY Hear From #AvGeeks

I was chatting with a friend who knows I’m an #avgeek, but doesn’t quite understand the lingo. She’s going to Europe and wondered whether she should fly on Ryanair. I replied “if you’re desperate to save money, want to sit in 10-inch seat pitch and care nothing about #PaxEx, then be my guest.” So please allow me to present other things you’ll only hear from #avgeeks — and things only #avgeeks would understand.  Enjoy!

  1. The movie `Die Hard 2′ makes my head hurt with all its aviation inaccuracies.
  2. Don’t even say the word “B’Gosh” after Oshkosh.
  3. I suppose Bollinger rosé  served in first class on Qatar Airways is OK, but I prefer the Krug served on Cathay Pacific.
  4. I’m not going to St. Maarten for the sand and surf — I’m planespotting!
  5. WHY does that news station insist on using Delta Air Lines L-1011 footage for every story?
  6. I just don’t understand what kind of ROI Emirates expects to get from its stake in Alitalia.
  7. Why did Southwest Airlines choose Row 44 to provide its inflight Wi-Fi service?
  8. If you’re flying on the version one of Korean Air’s Boeing 747, avoid row 45 in the middle — the seat pitch is tight and because it’s a bulkhead, it has a bassinet position, so you know that means screaming babies.
  9. I cannot *believe* that I have to take a Boeing 757 across the pond!
  10. I guess Premium Economy will have to do if I can’t get my upgrade.

Please feel free to share your own sayings!