World traveler Sam Chui is grounded: here are his 5 big takeaways

Mar 30, 2020

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Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing one of my favorite world travelers in an Instagram Live chat over at @thepointsguy. Hopping from flight to flight, Sam Chui seems to spend more time on the road than any of us here at TPG. Like the rest of us, however, he’s grounded for the time being — in Sam’s case, with his parents in Las Vegas, far from his home in Dubai.

Sam and I covered a variety of topics, including what life is like during his quarantine in the U.S., the speedy (and unexpected) demise of the Queen of the Skies and what we’re looking forward to in the future. You can catch our full 30-minute chat here — I’ll run through some of the highlights below, too.


Sam covered a variety of topics, including:

1. Why we’re still seeing so many planes fly

“The air cargo business is very strong at the moment… they’re the heroes behind quietly bringing all the logistics and supplies. They’re bringing medical supplies to countries like Italy and the U.S. When China had the coronavirus they brought these to China, now they’re bringing masks back from China to Europe and the U.S. Private aviation is also very strong at the moment, because of a lot of charter flights… to bring back stranded people and also to bring lots of cargo supplies.”

2. Sam’s travels have been impacted in a big way

“In late February things turned bad internationally. I guess the U.S. is the last country to get affected seriously. When I attended the Singapore Air Show, half the show was canceled. Half the participants didn’t turn up because it started in Asia first and moved on to Europe. I had the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, that’s been canceled. This month, I was also supposed to go to Fiji from LA on the A350. I pulled out last minute – I figured it was a little bit irresponsible.”

3. It isn’t possible to return to Dubai

“The country’s closed to anyone except their own citizens, and there’s no flights going in right now. The country is banning all flights for 14 days. Emirates flights are grounded, Etihad’s grounded. I’d love to go back to Dubai in mid-April, if the flights start again.”

4. Sam has suggestions for anyone who has to fly

“The most important thing is to do some research and to find out how full your flight is. I’d rather have some distance — have that peace of mind. Given the flight loads these days are not very full, except those stranded citizen rescue flights… if you have a row of three, you might only have two people sitting, with the middle seat blocked.”

5. Final flights can be more exciting than inaugurals

“I actually like the last flights more than inaugural flights. When things come to… the last opportunity… go all out to  … enjoy, to savor every memory. I did the very last international United 747 flight, from [Seoul] to San Francisco. And last year I did another one, the El Al last flight… we drew a 747 in the sky over the Mediterranean.”

Be sure to follow @thepointsguy, and my page, @zachhonig, on Instagram for more from aviation and travel leaders around the world.

Featured photo courtesy of Sam Chui.

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