Qantas is running a promotion currently, which is discounting your tickets to Australia by $135 for each ticket. Apparently, they took notice that not a lot of Americans have passports, and they want to help fix that. Simply go to qantas.com/passportredeem and enter the promo code “PASSPORT”, and select your flights. Depending on where you are flying from, the savings could be real, or they may be more expensive than competitor flights. You will either way, save $135 for most flights selected. If you happen to have a passport already, you still get the promotional savings. Just make sure you enter the promo code when making the booking. This is a great offer, if you were heading over to the land down under in the coming month or so. Getting a discount of $135 for each passenger is pretty good. You can also credit your miles to American Airlines, or Alaska Airlines if you like, since they are partners. Check your dates and make the booking, and let me know how much your flights came to. From Portland, Oregon, it was still too expensive for me to drop on a trip to Sydney. However, originating at a gateway city such as LAX, or SFO might yield lower prices. Happy Travels!
The death of Otto Warmbier should be a reminder for us all that traveling to places like North Korea isn’t a great idea. Honestly, I don’t think we will really know the facts why he was detained, and any statement regarding his detainment from his captors, shouldn’t be taken seriously. This article in The Independent UK highlights some of those points, and is written by a former North Korean, who luckily escaped to South Korea. Check it out as it is very interesting. I have seen documentaries of people who have sneaked out footage of stores, hotels, and restaurants, and put them on YouTube for everyone to watch, and I cant help wonder what a big risk they took to do that. They very well could’ve ended up like Otto Warmbier, seriously. I personally have no ambitions to visit North Korea, or to fly their state carrier Air Koryo, in light of Otto’s death, because they could just apprehend you for no reason, and you really don’t have any rights. There won’t be a phone call to mom and dad, and you’ll end up in a kangaroo court, and get served the most idiotic definition of justice there probably exists in this world.
There are several tour companies that arrange North Korean tours. Though I don’t recommend them, you can check out their offerings and get an idea of costs.
The Young Pioneer Tours – this is the company that handled Otto’s trip to North Korea. They have probably the most experience in handling a trip there, but also have come under fire now with the recent event. Therefore, they are no longer offering tours for Americans to North Korea, but still open to other passport holders.
Uri Tours – This is another company that boasts travels to the DPRK. They also take Americans, and also offer packages that include skiing, snowboarding, and even a marathon. Run for your life!..you may need to.
Koryo Tours – this Beijing based company, founded by two British guys, hosts tours as well. They are a bit smaller, but account for 50% of travels by Westerners to North Korea.
I would take my chances on a trip to Iran before North Korea. If anything, if I do get detained, I know at least the food will be better….or at least I hope.
Happy (and safe) Travels.