Leaving the Rollaboard at Home

I recently started a new project that’s taking me off to Chicago. This has changed my flight schedule for sure and it has also changed how I pack for my trips. This is because I am now flying on a plane that can’t handle a rollaboard. I technically can bring one but my bag would be gate checked and that kind of sucks overall. I’ve decided to try and just fly with my laptop backpack and a duffel bag.

I’ve tried doing the duffel and back pack thing for a week now and everything *just* fits in the bag. I’ve had to change how I pack and reduce all the non-essentials to almost nothing. I’ve also had to start rolling my clothes instead of folding them which I’m told doesn’t wrinkle my clothes but I haven’t done this long enough to tell a difference. I will say that it is nice to be able to pack everything in a really small bag but being my second week doing this I am starting to miss my roller a bit.

My biggest complaint will probably be that I have to carry everything through the airport now. That’s not that big a deal but it does get heavy at times but at least I’m never sprinting for a connection. I don’t have as much room to pack extra stuff with me now either o I have to also carry things like my jacket as well instead of being to roll it like I normally do and sometimes I bring extra clothes or bring things home and the extra room was always awesome. I guess the last complaint is that its just a little harder to go to the bathroom at the airport since I have to carry both bags with me. I guess no more sodas or Jamba Juice will be in my future when leaving Chicago.

Overall it’s not too bad just carrying everything. I’ve been looking at a bag from Tom Bihn that would be sweet but I would need to find a way to get rid of my work back pack which I’m not yet prepared to do yet. If they change the plane to something bigger than a regional jet then ill definitely go back to the rollaboard. Until then I’ll see how long I can stand using just a duffel and back pack. I just don’t like gate checking my bag and having to wait for it to come out of the cargo hold until I can just go to work or home. Here’s to another week of flying!

Dear Airlines of America, the public hates you

Normally I’m a very passive person when it comes to shit bothering me but over the last few years as a consultant I’ve had the mis-pleasure of having to fly the airlines that grace our domestic skies. Can’t say I’ve flown everyone but I have flown all of the major carriers and in my opinion and the opinion of many people that work with me or that are family, American air carriers are the worst for flying domestically and internationally.

Let’s go through this shall we?

1) Typically the service is sub-par on every front from cleanliness of the plane, competency of the employees over the phone, the prices charged, meals served, etc.
2) You definitely don’t get what you pay for these days. The days of getting everything for a single price are gone, now you have to pay to check bags, get food, get headsets, etc.
3) The inconvenience compensation is woefully under funded and insulting to paying customers. Even reward customers deserve better because of all the flights required to get a reward ticket these days. Offering “Airline Money” s pitiful, you might as well give me Monopoly money, at least with that I can have some fun and not have to pay even more money out of my pocket just to use the funny money you gave me as weak compensation
4) Lets face it, the fleets look OLD. For being an airline in the most powerful country on the planet, relying on ever smaller aircraft to shuttle us around like cattle is terrible. Fleets are at least 10 years old on average and some are even older because you can’t even fit a roll aboard in the overhead bins. American Airlines and US Airways probably have the oldest fleets. American still flies planes that they acquired from TWA, US Airways flies 737-200’s which were manufactured in the 80’s.

Those are just the highlights but I think where airlines have really failed is in the customer service department. Long lines to wait for a $6.00 voucher for food at an airport is terrible. You can get a bag of chips and maybe a soda for that price. It’s even worse when it’s a weather related delay, you get nothing at all. I remember being offered a room in Atlanta when my flight was canceled due to mechanical failure. It was the only time in my life where I was scared to actually lie down on the bed and I waited an hour for this voucher.

To me, the domestic market in the US is not competitive at all. There needs to be a huge shake up in order to get these airlines moving in the right direction. More competition from foreign airlines might be the best thing to give them a good kick in the ass. And if an airline fails and goes bankrupt, oh well! It’s been seen time and again and I don’t agree with using my tax money to bail out private companies. Someone somewhere will always be there to fill the void, whether its someone domestic or from abroad. I look to successful airlines like JetBlue as a pioneer in what airlines can do given the right leadership and corporate culture and actual realism in the goals that they set for themselves as as company.

I look at the big airlines and how they are trying to survive while expanding their networks. They’re almost like banks that are “too big to fail” which to me is another piece of bull shit. If the banks are too big to fail, don’t encourage mergers to make the bank BIGGER! Start breaking them apart, let them form alliance networks and limit their capabilities to make money in risky endeavors. Maybe the regional airlines should just be regional and not wholly owned subsidiaries of the big dogs, that might be another way to start building some competition. If we want things to get better, we need to let competition in. If competition doesn’t exist because someone is always ahead,
that means we’re getting lazy and can’t innovate anymore which would be a sad thing.

Although getting through airport security is a pain, it really is the airlines that are making flying more of a chore than a pleasure. The dude on the video or the pilot can thank me for my business all they want but I only give them business because I don’t have an alternative.

Sick travelers suck

I on one of my typical flights for work and I am just surrounded by pestilence. I think it all started when I got to the airport and the person in front of me started coughing up a lung and they didn’t even have the courtesy of covering their mouth. I tried to avoid it but it’s kind of hard when you’re in a single file line moving forward. Talk about rude man! I’m currently sitting in my seat as I write this blog post (it won’t get posted to my blog till I can get an Internet connection) and the person behind me sounds like they’re going to leave some internal organs in the pocket behind my seat.

I’ll admit that I am also guilty of traveling while I’ve been sick but most of the time when I do fly sick, it’s because I got sick while I was away from home and not really from being home. I mean seriously, it’s really hard to get sick when you live in South Florida. Ive been trying to do a best job of not traveling when I’m sick or layering up more when I travel. Case in point, I’ve basically retired my North Face shell jacket and my EMS vest for a ski jacket. Normally take my black work coat if it’s REALLY cold out to protect my legs but the ski jacket has been doing a great job keeping me warm and sickness away.

It would be awesome if in addition of giving out drinks, flight attendants could give out Meds or something to those passengers that are seriously sick which can get the rest of us sick. The only reason this is starting to concern me more and more is because I have a little daughter now that gets sick easily, it.ready got her sick last year from my traveling and getting sick and I want to try and avoid that because the doctor bills are crazy expensive.

The one good thing about flying on airplanes though is that they have good air recyclers which supposedly catches a good amount of the germs flying around in the air while the plane is up in the air. I’d take some of that Airborne stuff but I tried it when I first started flying and it’s kind of nasty actually. I’m just going to keep in good health as I continue to fly for work.

Airlines I want to fly in 2012

During my consulting career and even in life I’ve flown a lot of different airlines. In consulting I’ve pretty much just flown the domestic carriers like Delta, United, American, US Airways, etc. I’m technically loyal to SkyTeam but that’s only because I’ve flown the most with Delta Airlines over the years of ive flown on a SkyTeam partner. Lately this past year and the year before, I have flown a decent amount on Star Alliance such as United and US Airways. While I like flying either United or Delta for most of my business travel, I do want to try some other domestic carriers like Virgin America which seem pretty cool.

I’ve flown JetBlue for a while for personal travel but flying them for business isn’t half bad either. The other carriers that are not part of Star or SkyTeam do seem to offer more stuff for the price at you pay. I can only talk about JetBlue since they are the only carrier I’ve flown that wasn’t SkyTeam or Star Alliance domestically. I get free TV, free XM Radio (not that I use it), and they still serve snacks! The serving of snacks is a big thing for me since I fly do much and a lot of the time I fly for a few hours so I need something to keep my strength up so I can work during the day. My favorite happen to be terra blue chips but I think that on my latest flight I’ll try something else. What is also awesome is that they serve Arizona ice tea on their flights which is a great change from the usual crap I get on most other airlines.

If I was going to fly internationally, I want to try out Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and maybe another one of the more popular carriers. I’ve flown Lufthansa and Singapore before but when that was when I was a lot younger than I am now. I personally don’t want to travel on those carriers in economy but in business class but those kinds of flights are typically really expensive. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to do that. I’d like to bring my family on a nice trip to Europe or Asia in the next few years. I want to be able to show my daughter what things are like in other countries but I want her to be old enough to be able to really experience it and to remember the trip.

I do know that one of my trips will be to Singapore so I know that I will at least get to fly Singapore Airlines. As for some of the other airlines that I’ve mentioned, it depends on what my work schedule is like, my wife’s work schedule,and where we decide to take our major vacations in the future. On my hit list is at least, Singapore, Italy, the UK, Australia, Switzerland, and Malaysia at the very least. Now flying to those destinations will let me try some international airlines which I’ve heard are way better than the domestic carriers I’ve been flying the last few years.

Delayed in SFO…..again

I can’t seem to win when it comes to flying home from SFO to MIA. I’ve been flying here for three weeks and this is the second time that I’m going to be leaving past 11PM PDT when my original flight is supposed to leave at 8:45 PM. The last time I think it was the weather that wasn’t agreeing with me so that I can kind of forgive since it is a nature thing. This time its a mechanical problem with the plane. They didn’t give an specifics on what was wrong this time but it’s bad enough that they have to haul the plane away and we have to wait for another plane from Miami to come in so we can take that one instead.

I’m coming to SFO for one more week after this then I’ll be at home. I’m hoping that I have good luck next week and that I won’t be delayed in going home. For one thing I need some sleep when I get in because sleeping on the plane really sucks especially when you have the aisle seat and the other people in the row probably want to go to the bathroom or something. The other is that I have to go to work still and produce some documents that are due next Tuesday.

I really wish that I could use Delta Airlines for flying here rather than having to use American. Unfortunately this is the only direct flight that comes to SFO from South Florida. And to think, I only have to keep on doing this until November. If my luck continues like this I’m going to ask to get a different flight home because I can’t be arriving at home in the middle of the day on Friday, expected to work the whole day and then not spend the time I want with my family. I guess I’ll cross my fingers and pray this is the last time this will happen for the month of August