Archive for February, 2010

Reflections from the AIR-plane & all else travel related…

February 24, 2010

On a recent business trip I filed away some thoughts to lament here on my new vehicle, the blog.  I think that the airline industry has adopted a policy of “well they did it, so I should too”.  I remember that adage as a child sounding more like this “if he jumps off a building are you going to as well?”  I will spare any airline names, but know I have used and enjoyed the service in the past so these changes are not assumptions they are from firsthand experience.

Where do I begin food, entertainment, comfort or extra charges?  This flight was from Orlando International to Orange County, CA (John Wayne) via George Bush International (Houston) and back again.

Fees:

While checking in the day prior to the trip from home I was offered a discount for prepaying for my luggage (yes my bag now needs a “ticket”, $23.00 in advance, a $2.00 discount, hold me back, so I do not spend it all in one place. Well as I was still not completely packed, hoping I might be able to carry on all bags, I opted for the $25.00 option at the counter.  Anyway paying for my luggage feels like paying for the use of a grocery cart at the store and then having to pay extra to use the basket as well as the child seat area (overhead storage).  I did find surprising empathy from the counter staff (I think that is a compliment).  [I am glad I checked a bag, otherwise what comes next would make me a hypocrite] So after paying for my suitcase to travel and navigating through security it is on to boarding.  As I wait for my row to be called, I am eventually the 4th group called, I look around at the “carry on” items that people have with them, hanging bags, purses, camera bags, the biggest laptop cases you have ever seen, backpacks, suitcases and more.  I am pretty sure the line of acceptable carry on has been blurred significantly under the guise of one carry on and one personal item.  Anyway, after finally boarding the plane I immediately see the impact of this, take a guess!  When I got on the plane with my one laptop backpack (with enough room for all my in flight needs) I found the answer, yep the plane was less then 25% full but the overheads were about 75% full.  What, how is this possible?  This happened on all 4 flights for this trip, why is no one monitoring this and forcing bags to be gate checked?  BTW if gate checked do they pay the luggage fee?  Doubt it!  What really upset me is that when I found a space for my bag (with laptop and other electronics and stuff, the flight attendant came and moved my bag away from where I stowed it, in accordance to all the rules.  She started banging it around and I got wide eyed and a bit tense, she said, oh is there a problem, is something breakable in here?  Is that really the point?  Shouldn’t I be allowed a single space overhead without this occurring and shouldn’t those with 2 items be required to not only prove the size is of carry on criteria, but gate check or put the extra item under the seat in front of them?  We should be afforded the same amenities as everyone else, regardless of status, seat location or need for extra time to get on the plane.

Food:

Okay so I know not to expect anything more than regular cafeteria fare when I am not in 1st class (have been and it is sweet), but things have changed.  On the first leg from Orlando to Houston (approx 2 ½ hrs), we were offered a drink and a blueberry muffin (not in that order).  The muffin looked like something you would purchase at 7-11, pre packaged.  Anyway it was shiny and looked okay, as I said the order of delivery was drink 2nd… Well, having been up since 2:30am and the first food I felt like eating was this muffin around 7:00am, I bit into this thing (again well before the drink came) and it created a dough plug in my throat!  At this point I put down the remaining portion of muffin and prayed the drink cart would show up as if I was married to “I dream of Jeannie”, well the drink cart was at least 10 rows away (that’s 10 rows of 6, 60 people between me and breathing again).  Since I am here writing this, you can assume I managed to swallow the muffin plug waited patiently for my beverage.  Once I got my drink I did finish the muffin, but felt like Takeru Kobayashi eating hot dogs at Nathans on July 4th, soaking the bread in water!  BTW the drink cart slammed square into my knee as it passed me…  The rest of the food from flight to flight was actually acceptable and worked.  The 2 flights between Houston and the OC and OC to Houston, we were served cereal, milk and raisins and I actually enjoyed this offering.  And nothing to speak of on the last leg home, just some mini pretzel sticks and a drink.  I use to get a hot or cold sandwich (appropriate for time of day egg vs. lunch meat), fruit and snack item like candy.  Other then the muffin the food was good, but the value has gone down while all other costs have increased.

Seats and entertainment:

Comfort on airplanes is an oxymoron (in coach anyway); on this trip I was on four different planes, two 737s and two 757s.  Now I think the 757 and the 737 are pretty close in specs for seating, but the 57 can go further with more people (good enough comparison for government work anyway).  This trip was (other passengers aside) uneventful BUT, the comfort level was awful.  This is not a Kevin Smith story, although if I were on that airline, I bet they would have asked me off too (why was he flying a discount airline anyway?)  Well to say I am normal sized is an understatement, so I am never excited about flying but this time especially the 1st leg (Orl to Hou) the seat pitch seemed much, much smaller then other flights.  It really felt as if they had added an extra row or two over the 40+ rows already on the plane, my knees were easily ready to be two to three inches into the seat in front of me.  This I found oddly disturbing because on the other three legs of this trip I easily had between one and two inches of space before touching the seat in front of mine.  The two flights home were nice from the respect that the middle seat was vacant and we could “spread out!”  Don’t you think better everyone’s situation by removing a row or 2, giving that space back to us, removing the extra costs and provide us a quality of service that they once had.  Nowadays you find many people who are just as jaded working for the airlines as are those of us who utilize their services like caged rats.  When will they learn…

As for the entertainment options, just to be fair, I carry an iPod so my intention was not to watch or listen to the offered in flight TV and/or movies.  I am always curious as to what is offered, the only thing that stood out on this trip is that on the 3rd leg we had individual LCDs with in flight DirecTV (TV & Movies).  What was discouraging was that this option (in my face) would cost $6.00 to utilize, otherwise it remains on with a add blocking all previews asking for my credit card.  BTW I did find the off switch eventuallyJ.  The rather interesting thing here is that if the flight was using older equipment with LCD screens every few rows, the movie would have been free (again no clue what it was).  Anyway I just feel like we are the personal ATM to the airline industry, they have us hook line and seatbelt.  One airline in fact charges for luggage, soft drinks and soon blankets, but has an advertisement on each tray, as a captive viewer, I want to be rewarded for playing along not penalized and charged at will.

Well that’s my gripe, all in all it was a good trip, rented a Nissan Altima Hybrid, got great city mileage, enough to make me consider a hybrid next time for sure.  But being home is always the best and it was great to have my family pick me up, sister, daughter and my wife.

Until, next time…L8TR!

Coming Soon – Air Travel…flight, food & seats

February 18, 2010

As I am on travel this week (of 2/15/10) in California, I am FORCED to reflect on my travel to and from…

Hello World

February 12, 2010

Today is Friday February 12th 2010 and I have decided to write…

I was never really a great writer be it stories, resumes, editorials, newsworthy articles, reviews etc, etc, etc.  This rang true whether I was in primary, secondary or voluntary (college LOL) school.  Recently however, I have been looking for new ways to grow and express myself.

Firstly I am considering joining Toastmasters International with the Omni Toastmasters Club #6861 in Lake Mary, Florida.  The Toastmasters are a social organization dedicated to providing an environment to allow anyone to becoming a better speaker, listener and leader.  And secondly you may be able to guess that my written expression comes in the form of this blog.

What are my intentions?  I do not yet know, I do know however that I want to grow personally, professionally and add some of me to the rest of the world.  So sit back comment, suggest and most of all enjoy!

L8tr!


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