Saturday, October 1, 2011

Worth it to Stick with One Carrier to Rack Up Miles?

Short answer: Hell yeah!

Longer, more intelligent and nuanced answer:

In fact, this answer over on Quora, from a fellow named Michael McGraw-Herdeg, so captures the way we feel about frequent flyering that we wanted to share it with you. And if someone asks you how you can stand all that travel, refer them to Michael's insights – we think it's the most articulate explanation of the benefits of brand-commited flight, so we're telling you about it.

Here's an excerpt, which we feels sums it all up so well. According to Michael,
The real benefits of being a frequent traveler on one airline are all about familiarity. If you take 10 flights on American, versus 10 flights on 10 different carriers, you'll start to understand exactly what is going on during your trip. You'll go from "I am a zombie in transit and I hope things work out OK" to "I understand completely what is happening and I have some control over the outcome."
And if you don't think Michael got it right – or if he missed an important aspect – leave a comment and tell us.

Photo by Derek Steen via Creative Commons

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Flying on 9/11

Both Crosscheck and I are flying internationally (EX USA) today, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Airport traffic seems moderate for a Sunday, perhaps a little lighter than normal. We will see and hear some industry stats in the days to come.

For me, flying on 9/11 wasn't a personal statement about freedom, or sending a statement to terrorists, it was a function of knowing that I had to be in Europe on September 12, and picking a flight that would get me there overnight from the East Coast. Only after getting the confirmation email did I look and think, "Oh crap, that departure is the 10th anniversary of September 11!"

But I didn't think about changing my plans. If anything, security leading up to today has been more strict (at least...I assume it has!), and scoring an upgrade (money + miles on CO) was smooth.

Here's to pondering the changes 9/11 brought (not just to air travel), and to safer flying from now on.

Friday, August 12, 2011

We Love to Pee, and It Shows

"594" is part of the registration &q...Image via WikipediaCrosscheck and I recently compared experiences getting doused with fluids in mid-flight. A woman next to her sneezed a large volume of probably illness-laden spittle onto her. For my part, a careless FA decided to pop the pull tab on a can of Heineken about 5 inches from my right temple, sending a frothy spray of Dutch lager into my eye and ear.

But we have nothing on a kid who was unlucky enough to fly a JetBlue redeye from Oregon to New York.

If you haven't heard this story yet, prepare for a doozy.

A teenage passenger on a JetBlue redeye was detained after landing because he peed on an 11-year old girl during the flight. The New York Post tells it like this:
The youngster was traveling with her sister and dad, and had been left alone for a few minutes while the others used the lavatories. Robert Vietze, 18, of South Warren, Vt., stumbled from his seat five rows behind her and emptied his bladder, a witness said.
"I was drunk, and I did not realize I was pissing on her leg..." He later claimed to have consumed eight alcoholic beverages.
Yeah, uh, OK.

There are a bunch of obvious issues here, but the thing we loved most about the initial version of the story was the phrase embedded in the URL for the NY Post story:

Creep in Jet Stream

Once we were done laughing we logged back in to Interwebs to discover that the nocturnal emitter in question was a member of the US Ski Team, now an ex-member of the US Ski Team.

Insert "US Pee Team" joke here.

To be continued, we are certain.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Speaking of Exit Rows: UA's New [Crap] Policy

Exit row seat 30H Boeing 777 United Airlines2P bastard stealing seat 30H on a 777, by hansenbrian via FlickrHere's a quote from United's new exit row seating policy. As a 1P (Premier Executive) passenger who flew almost 95,000 flight miles last year, this pisses me way off:

  • MileagePlus members with 1K, Premier Executive, Premier, or Global Services status may select exit row no extra charge when purchasing tickets...
The emphasis is obviously added by me. This isn't the first downgrade to MileagePlus status benefits and it won't be the last. But in its effort to incorporate CO flyers and planes, UA is going crazy, nibbling away at the differences between mid-tier status benefits.

Sure, anyone can (already) buy exit row seats when they purchase a ticket (even non-MP members). 

But they don't. Those seats are almost always still available when I check in online 24 hours before flight time. Will that still be true if 2Ps can select them at the same time I can?

You're a 2P who flew 25,001 miles last year. I flew almost 100,000. Shouldn't there be a little more differentiation between our benefits, and not a little less?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

10M Miles

You think you fly a lot? Meet Tom Stuker, United's newly-minted 10 million mile flyer.

Congrats to Tom! But wow, that's a lot of time in the air. I love racking up the miles as much as anyone. But to me, his accomplishment is equal parts amazing and awesome, with a hefty dose of "depressing" mixed in.

I'd like my name on a plane, though...

Photo above from United's Facebook page.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Will You Fly on September 11?

While booking some travel today, it occurred to me that some people will avoid flying on 9/11/11, the tenth anniversary of the infamous hijackings.

On the other hand, my co-author Crosscheck pointed out that the inevitable heightening of security screenings might make 9/11 among the safer days for flying – from an anti-terrorism standpoint, anyway.

Are you flying on 9/11? Or are you avoiding it?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Don't You Know Who I Am?

I'm a 1k flyer on United. We've spent a lot of time together, United and me. For most of 2010, we were having a mad affair 34,000 feet up.

So here's what I don't get: United still doesn't know me. Like, really know me. United forgets that I prefer aisle seats. And that I have very particular dietary requests. When I get an upgrade, or if I'm traveling overseas, I know I have to pick up the phone and call United. My online profile with United clearly states my meal preference, so it should be in their system...but for some reason, that information isn't transferred over to the ground staff at the airport. Why do I have to call and request a special meal, when that information is clearly included in my profile?

Yeah, yeah, I know: "you got the upgrade, so why are you complaining?"

It's the principle.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Your Feet Smell, or Airplane Etiquette 101

When we're not scrapping for an upgrade, both Crosscheck and I are likely to be taking in a baseball game. We long ago discovered Murray Cook's Field Blog. Major League Baseball's chief groundskeeper travels the globe to build and resuscitate ballfields in countries you've never even heard of, and logs many air miles in the process.

We were thrilled when Murray blogged about his frustration with the lack of flying etiquette displayed by so many travelers. We'll let you read his full post for yourself, but here are the ones we thought most on target:
  • Too-big Carry-ons
    • As Murray points out, sneaking a steamer trunk on board doesn't entitle you to let it smack me in the side of the head as you head to your seat.
  • Aggressive Recliners
    • We agree with Murray: check to see who's behind you and what they are doing before you crush their laptop screen or splash their drink into their lap. Then recline gradually.
  • Headphone Intruders
    • If we have headphones on, guess what? We're listening to something other than you and we don't want to start a conversation.
  • Kicking Kids
    • I'm talking about kids you wish you could kick because of their behavior. But it's the parents who deserve the kicking – that is, if they don't even try to prevent their precious babies from kicking the back of your seat, or touching your head from the row behind you, or playing a handheld game with the sound on and no cetera.
  • Shoeless Joe
    • Even clean feet are disgusting. You've been hoofing it through airport security and running the concourse to get to the gate, so your filthy, sweaty, stinking sock (or worse, bare) feet are not welcome outside of your shoes. Especially if you put them up on the bulkhead. Gross.
We'll cover more pet peeves in future posts, but this seems like a good start.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Korean Air's Prestige Lie-Flat Dental Torture-Looking Seat

We're all for lie-flat seats – I personally can't sleep, even on a long-haul flight, unless I'm lying flat. Some of the seats you see on major carriers not only perform this function, they do it with style. You can get a pretty good run down over at the Skytrax seat review site.

But I was horrified by the design (pictured here) of Korean Air's Prestige Sleeper Seat. Never mind that it gets bad reviews, it looks like a torture device from one of the Saw movies.

Or worse – it looks like something you'd see at a combination dental + gynecology practice.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Who Are We? Why Are We Here?

Stamp: Civil aviation in the GDRImage via WikipediaGreetings from your authors.

I'm Arrival, and this is Crosscheck.

Who are we? 

And why another goddamn clever blog about flying?

We're just regular business folks, who have to fly – sort of a lot, sometimes – for work.

Rather than bemoan the hassles and inhumanity of commercial air travel, we decided to make it into a bit of a hobby. Flying is partially part of our job, and partially something that turns out to be interesting – and even fun sometimes. Or at least, funny.

On the blog we'll write occasional commentaries about all the stuff regular business travelers are familiar with:

  • airports
  • aircraft
  • passengers
  • airlines
  • lounges, and 
  • flight crews. 

We'll also cover the eternal quest for upgrades, news about the industry, horror stories, minor annoyances and the occasional "Hooray!" for good service or other noteworthy wins in the air.

Hope you'll subscribe, and that you'll leave a comment if you like – or despise – what we have to say.

And meanwhile, follow us on the Twitter! We're over there as @ExitRowAisle.

See you at the gate.