The Reality of Today's Business Travel
By legalthing on Dec 23, 2006
I've been watching as the holiday travel season hits its crescendo. Seeing all the people trapped in Denver has me thinking about all the traveling I've done over the last few months. The accompanying soundtrack for these thoughts is one from the Man in Black called ”I've Been Everywhere”. My version of the song would include the alternative lines: "I've been to Toronto-Newark-Manhattan-Buenos Aires-Sao Paulo-Denver-San Diego...”
Earlier in my career, I really enjoyed the opportunity to travel. But these days...well, the appeal is gone. Don't get me wrong, most of my trips are centered around speaking to employees in "town halls”, meeting with customers and government officials and spending time with people from my team. This part is great and immensely satisfying. However, the travel itself is brutal.
Here's a good example from a recent trip to South America. After several days of non-stop meetings in Sao Paulo, I depart at 3pm and head to the airport arriving at 5pm (serious traffic in that city). Proceeding to the check-in counter, I discover there is no one there. I recheck my tickets and find that in my jet-lagged state, I had misread them and that my flight does not leave for another six hours. Now, I don’t want to say that there is a shortage of things to do in the Sao Paulo Airport but… Let me put this way, after three hours, I’m helping the janitorial crew clean up the waiting lounge just to keep myself awake.
Finally, at 10:30pm, I head for my gate, but once there I'm informed that the flight is delayed due to "routine maintenance". At 12:15am, the flight crew arrives running through the terminal. Coincidently, our "routine maintenance" is now completed and we are ready to board. Thirty minutes later we are finally in the air and headed for Miami.
Of course, as a result of the delay, I miss my flight from Miami to San Francisco and am forced to spend an additional four hours in Miami International Airport (By the way, if this ever happens to you, stop by "Angelo's Hair Port". The owner – Angel – has been working in the same location since arriving from Cuba in 1958. His haircutting abilities are rivaled only by his stories. And, he does an amazing straight razor shave).
I finally land in San Francisco at 4pm. After a one-hour drive, I arrive home; say “hello” to the family and drop into a coma - a very deep coma. Total travel time almost 30 hours.
And stories like this don't make me feel much better.