Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Southwest gets it right with Open Seating v2.0

Well I have never been a Southwest airlines fan. Most of that came from first impressions back in the late 90's/00's of sitting on the floor at the gate just to receive a good spot in order to get a decent seat on the plane. Well I flew with them last week. I must say that Southwest is not sitting still. They have improved the "open seating" process so you can still get a great seat with out sitting on the floor. Checking in at home allows you to get a spot in line without busting your butt to get to the airport before anyone else. Business travelers that can pay more then the lowest available price can also push themselves to the beginning of the the line by paying a few extra bucks more. Kudos to Southwest for continuing to improve themselves in an industry that has lost its way.

Monday Nov 17, 2008

Cloud Computing = ASP = VAN

All the sudden I feel like I am back in the year 1985. It was before the Internet made it big. I was at GE Information Services. We hosted corporate applications. The corporations could dial up any where on the planet before the Internet and broadband made dial up obsolete. We hosted email, EDI and other large applications. VAN - Value added network.

Fast forward to the year 2003 the year of the ASP. And further fast forward to the year 2008. We got Cloud Computing. I cannot help but see the VAN model the GEIS and other providers invented has come full circle. We went form hosting to not hosting and back to hosting applications. No need to worry about providing dial up. Just need an Internet connection. Back to the future.

Maybe GEIS can be revived. Long live GEIS.

Monday Nov 10, 2008

Oh Florida why can't I leave. Smoked plane...

Ok my travel adventures are just bad this year. Lost luggage. No "delayed luggage". Destroyed luggage. Oh make that normal wear and tear.
But this one is good. Not the airlines fault but just a sign of things that can happen in a mechanical world.

We board the plane. Push back 10 minutes early. Pilot says we will arrive early. How cool is this ? I can be home by midnight. Flight attendants do their thing. Check the overheads. Check the seat belts. Tell us the locations of the emergency exits. I note as usual. I am sitting 2 rows in front of the over wing exit.

Engines are now starting. Then a terrible grinding noise. Sulfur smell and smoke now are entering the cabin. Pilot now spins the plane around and our 500 ft taxi has now ended. We are now heading back to the terminal. Flight attendants are trying to ring pilot over intercom. They are a little busy. Park at jetbridge. Ordered to get off the plane and leave everything. Oh my this is now starting to feel a bit more serious. Everyone is still calm. Which is good with the young ones returning from the land of the mouse.

The crew did a great job of making a call to return to the terminal vs. have us use the emergency slides. Although part of me feels that would a have been an interesting experience. But the pilot tells us that a lot of leg injuries happen when they do that. No doubt I would have been the one going to the hospital.

So now we are waiting on our next plane for DC. Stay tuned....

Boss man, I will be late starting work tomorrow.

Monday Oct 20, 2008

Sun Ray @ Westin

Well I am now begining vacation. I decided to bring the Gobi 8 thin client Sun Ray my boss so graciously got me along. While this is vacation there are a few things that did not get wrapped up before I left. In all fairness they did not start until I left for the airport. Hmmmm.

But I am using the thin client laptop here to do email and browse the sun internal network. All over VPN from the Westin hotel room.

Very nice. Nothing to lose should the maid start Christmas shopping early since all the data is somewhere on the Sun network. I like this :)

Wednesday Sep 10, 2008

Like 2 dear in my headlights...

Well today I had to travel to the west coast. So my day started at 4:30 am. I left the house around 4:00 AM to get to BWI. On my way up through the country side I noticed this furry thing hop into my path. Half awake I start my extreme breaking. Deer #1 hops out of the way and I start to relax. Still not at a complete stop Deer #2 follows the in the footsteps of Deer #1. Ok now I have to bring the car to a complete stop. Anti-Lock brakes working. Tires slightly squealing. Deer #2 has that oh crap look. As do I. Deer typically leave a lasting effect on ones car. Both deer and Leroy avoid collision. Thank you Munchen engineers for not skipping Brakes 301.

So now on to the airport. Although I think Deer #2 and I may need clothing change. So I get to the airport. Things seem to be smooth. Ha. Should have known better. So my favorite bankrupt airline needs to fix plane # 1. Luckily it is only 15 minutes and my 2 hour delay in Denver is not in jeopardy.

Now it gets even better. When I check in I notice my seat assignment had changed. No problem still a leave me alone so I can sleep window position. When I get to Denver a whole bunch get called to the podium. Plane change. They now have a first class section. My seat is still good but the counter rep asks me if I want to get upgraded. Sweet. I got upgraded and board the plane. Even get me complimentary cran-apple juice.

Do not ask me but I love cran-apple on planes. Never but the stuff at home. But I like it when I fly. Weird.

Before we take off, we are asked to deplane because plane number 2 is broken. So they send us to the other side of the terminal to board the same type of plane we should have had 45 minutes ago. So now we have to get re-ticketed again since the seating has changed. My word. We finally push back and are on our way. Now 1 hour late.

I am thinking I can still make this 3pm meeting. Just barely. Now I have to wait for my luggage. Which is taking its time. When it arrives I start rolling it and notice that a wheel is missing. No it is not missing it was sheared off. So now I have to make a claim on my bag. But it is not covered since "breaking a wheel off ones bag" is considered normal wear ad tear. Bull S\*&(. The bag is less than 6 months old. They said they would send me a 50.00 voucher. That will fix a 300.00 bag.

So lets see, they have cost me money for "delaying a bag" early in the year. Forcing me to shop for new clothes to attend a meeting. Then they destroy my brand new bag. Do they really think I will give them any more money ? H&\^( no.

So I curiously call the bag company when I get to the hotel. For a nominal shipping charge they will fix the bag no problems. Wait customer service. It does still exist. Maybe the airline industry can figure this out before they go out of business.

Maybe on the trip home they can shear the other wheel off. At least the suite case will be balanced.

Thursday Jun 26, 2008

Amtrak rocks ! Long live the train.

Well if you have been following my blog you will remember that that past three flights I have had were delayed about 8 hours each on the return leg. Well I travelled to NYC today on the train. Not my first time but this is the way to travel. At least in the Washington - NYC - Boston corridor. Why ?

First the barco lounger sized coach class seats for one. These babies are bigger than most first class seats on aircraft.

Second, the freedom to eat when you want.

Third, no way to lose luggage since you stow it yourself.

And finally, the best. The ability to get work done. There was a lot happening today and I was able to use the mobile data card to keep the laptop in touch with everything going on at work. Minus one tunnel in Baltimore. The cell phone worked well. If I had taken the plane this would have been a complete waste of an afternoon. I was able to be as productive on the train as in my office.

I wish all travel could be like this. But taking the train to California from Maryland would probably not be that effective. At least for business. Holiday is another story.

Monday Jun 23, 2008

What a beautiful weekend...

Well I am heading back from my sisters house. This past weekend she gave birth to Camille Milan. A 8lb 11oz charmer. It makes one think about life.

Any way I got an nice upgrade with the rental car. I ask for the el cheapo 29.00 a day special. I wound up with a brand new Sebring Convertible. Chrysler did a good job on this one. The Sebring stowes it top under the trunk lid like those more expensive convertibles from BMW and Mercedes. Albeit without the refinement but she still turned a few heads :)

One of these days I may buy me one of those steel roof convertibles. Something about a cloth top and the northeast. There is something that just stirs the soul driving in the open air with the top down. Ohio never looked so good.

Now I am doing the wait for the plane trick. The past two trips I had to Ohio had delays of 8 hours or more. So just like the Columbus and Dayton trips, I have already gotten 4 delays for Cincinnati. Oh well. Maybe the convertible needs some more exercise. At 59 miles on the ODO it needs some love.

The plane is so late I actually might make the Monday con call !

Wednesday Jun 11, 2008

Lost time...

Well I finally made it home. It would seem that my attempts to catch an early plane the past two weeks have met with the dreaded term "Cancelled". So I finally got a seat on my original flight that was another 1.5 hours late. Geez talk about time I will never see again. Good to be home. Now I can start catching up. Fun :)

Tuesday Jun 10, 2008

Failure urgh cannot escape Dayton

My attempt to get on the early flight to get home has failed. Cancelled flight. Now I am rebooked on the original flight that was scheduled. Glad I kept that luggage. The plane has arrived but we are departing an hour and half later. Thinking I should reserve a hotel room now.

Air travel he%!... Please rescue me...

Well it is official. I am in air travel he%!. My flight boarded late. An hour late. Backed away from the gate. We went to a special area where airplanes that have no place to go park. We sat for an hour and half. Then they took us back to the gate. We are now awaiting our fate. Stay tuned...

So how many bags can fit in a Mercedes SLK ???

Well needless to say I am not checking my luggage today. On the way into the airport I saw this nice silver Mercedes SLK outside the airport. As I am walking by I see a young couple eyeing the car. Well one was observing the situation. The other was working his butt off. It would seem the Ms. came to visit with 2 gargantuan bags. The young lad was trying to close the trunk lid of the car. He only had one bag in the trunk. He was having no luck at all. I see them leaving the SLK at the airport and renting a large car. I wish I had the time to continue to watch that event. Too funny.

Monday Jun 09, 2008

Counting your chickens before...

Well I knew better than to count my chickens before they hatched. Last week I blogged on how my luggage made what I would consider a difficult trip. Two airlines with 8 hours a down time in a airport. That worked so well. So this week, I had a simple trip to Dayton from Dulles. What can go wrong on a 1 hour non connection flight ?

Pretty much everything concerning luggage. I get to Dayton and the luggage belt has stopped again and people are hovering, looking for their bags. Turns out the airline did not put 30% of the passenger bags on board. We all made our way to the luggage office to file our claims.

The airline at least knows my bag never left Washington. That is kind of sort of comforting. But they cannot tell any of us when they will ship the remaining bags. They will not commit. Will not take any action. It would have been nice even if they just talked positively and firmly even though they had no clue. Nothing. No help. No information.

So now everyone is upset. The majority of us have meetings the next morning and nothing to wear. Should we shop ? Will the bags show up ? Nothing back from the counter people. They recommend calling the 800 number.

The 800 number was even worse. An automated voice system that just does not work. After 3 tries it rolls over to a real person. This person can only read a script and I think they are a half world away. So you know there is nothing they can do to help you. Every time you call, three times total, I had to wait for at least 20 minutes. Make sure the cell phone is charged.

The phone call was interesting. It goes like this. We value your elite status with us. I see you are calling regarding a "insert baggage type here" black bag. No natural sound. It is forced. Like the worst automated systems of the 80's. No matter what question you ask, you get zero information that you can use. Like a flow chart they clearly are not free to think outside of the script. So frustrating.

At one point a lady asked me if I had internet access. I tell her no because I am shopping for clothes, that I may not need since you cannot tell me if my bag will show up or not. How am I going to have internet access in a clothing store ? Essh.

I know when I fly home they will have to pry that bag from my cold dead hands before they take it from me.

If FedEx can track my package anywhere on the planet why can't the airlines track bag the same way ?

Saturday Jun 07, 2008

A tale of 2 travel days...

This is a tale of two travel days. One that was unexpectedly flawless. The other could not been more a failure. This week started with me traveling to Morgantown and then to Boston the next day. I decided to fly into Pittsburgh since you really do not have many choices into and out of the Morgantown area.

So the first leg of my trip started at 8:45 am with the flight to Pittsburgh. I rented a car for the trip to Morgantown. My second flight to Boston was at 8:30 PM. Almost 12 hours apart. On USAirways. When I checked in for leg #1 on United the kiosk checked my bag completely thru to Boston on USAirways. Cool. No need to go to the baggage claim twice in one day. But the agent asked me if that was what I wanted ? That is when doubt entered my mind. I said yes sure.

So now I have this cloud over my head since my baggage is going to be loitering in Pittsburgh for a whole day. Being transferred not from a UA plane to another UA plane. But from a UA plane to a US plane with 12 hours to sit somewhere. You see I never like checking my bags a connecting flight. More chances for it to travel to another destination without me. Potentially a better destination. Last time I did this my bags showed up in Ireland 2 days later. Try finding a big mans store in a thin mans country. So this bag "home alone" scenario was n the back of my mind. In the end UA/US came through with the interline transfer and the bag made it.

Leg #2 was a totally different story. At least I put my mind in a low key state before I got to the airport. Had a great lunch. Healthy too in Boston. Hit the airport with some time to spare. Noticed that NO counter personnel bothered to show up. Hmmm. Got my first flight delay message. Well five delay messages later and still no counter agent, I decide to check the flight coming to us. It was also delayed. Thank goodness for the Macbook and Wireless card keeping me connected. Well, it then happened. The proceeding flight was cancelled. The seating area lit up with SMS notification tones. Half the area stood up at once. Now it is a mad dash to the customer server center. Was in the first 10 of 50 people. Whew that cardio is coming in handy now.

Turns out UA rebooked us automatically for the next flight. Which by the way was 1 hour late. Oh hear we go again. But at least the plane is in the air. On its way to Boston. Ironically this was my original flight. I changed to since my meeting was only in the morning. So we all are patiently waiting in the seating area. Then the announcements start. Not delays but motivation boarding announcements. Like if we do not board by 9:15 the crew will be up against the working limit for the day and the flight will not fly. Great. So we board with 5 minutes to spare. People working together. Got to love team work.

Flight was uneventful. Yes finally back in DC. Well now we cannot get out of the plane. The Jetway will not move. Tweenty minutes later we are free. The only bright spot was the luggage was waiting for us when we got to baggage claim. In fact it had been there so long the belt timed out and shut down the moment we stepped up to it.

It going to be a fun travel summer. Reduced flights. Angry employees. Thunder storms. That rumored "lets weigh you before you get on the plane" pricing. Lets go cardio.

Wednesday May 28, 2008

One idea to improve air travel

Ok just got back from a short haul trip today. One the great things about regional jets is you can check your bag plane side and pick it up at the planes door when you get off. Today the no liquids strategy pushes you to check your bag and WAIT for it at your destination. How about a hybrid approach.

Check your bag as normal. This eliminates the need to lug the bag to the gate and bypasses the security line issues with fluids. Then once you are at your destination you pick up the bag plane side. This enables you to speed away from the airport with out having to wait 20-60 minutes for the bag your were forced to check.

Of course there would be some crazy pricing scheme needed to handle this. Like the 3rd and 7th bags are free but everything else cost 25.00 to handle. Unless you have flow twice in the past month. Then bags 2 and 8 are free.

Tuesday Apr 15, 2008

Jetblue, E190, the TSA and Contraband

Well decided to take a few days off this week. On my way down to Florida we boarded the trusty Jetblue flight to sunny Orlando. I was suprised since the seating layout showed a 2+2 configuration. I fear it would be a Canadair flight from hell. The whole regional jet phenom allows us to board quickly and to get to our destinations quicker than the old turboprops of yesteryear. But they leave much to be desired in terms of comfort of seating.

It gets close especially if you put 2 large guys together. We are not even talking XXL guys just Large or XL guys. The Embraerer 190 is the perfect 2+2 plane. In Jetblues configuration you actually have leg space in economy minus. Normally my knees are in the seatback in front of me. But what suprised me is the extra inch of width in the seats made such a big difference. Even with the armrest hog next to me it was a comfortable flight.

The flight was 3 hours late not because of Jetblue. They were wonderful as always. But the TSA found contraband on the flight and we sat for 1.5 hours. We had to deplane and be checked for contraband. The TSA had 20 agents, I kid you not, show and to search every thing. Pat downs, wanding and bag searches. They really did a good job in processing the whole flight in 40 minutes. We never were told what contraband was found.

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