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Archive for March, 2010

Recently while traveling back home from a client, I encountered some pretty dicey weather. This gave me some new fodder to blog about.

Weather is often the enemy of travel. It can cause minor delays, major delays, and even overnight stays at airports. It can also completely shut down an airport. In most scenarios, weather can lead to just plain frightening travel.

For instance, take my most recent trip back home. When descending into my local airport, my plane was struck by lightning. Yes, read that sentence again – STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. Now, the truth of the matter is, lightning doesn’t really cause damage to planes that are in-flight. If you go back to your physics books, lightning causes the most damage when it strikes something on the ground. However, it is scary nonetheless. When it struck, it looked like a small explosion. Those of us that happened to be looking out a window when it occurred (me), were freaked out for about 5 seconds. I thought we had lost the engine. It’s amazing what crosses your mind when you think you’re going to die. When I realized the plane was still flying 5 seconds later, I calmed down and readied myself for the landing. Then I relaxed in the frequent fliers club for an hour (drink in hand) and gathered my nerves for the next flight in my journey. Luckily, no major incidents with the second flight…

I’ve also been on flights where the turbulence made my stomach do flip flops. It’s not fun when the plane drops unexpectedly. After over a dozen years of flying, I don’t mind it when the plane shifts sideways or suddenly hits a bump and ascends. What most freaks me out is when the plane drops. I’ve been lucky not to experience too many drops that were more than 20 feet myself…I might just give up traveling altogether if that were the case.

After doing some contemplating, I came up with a list of “travel” related incidents that have occurred to me over my consulting career.

Updated: Nov 2015

  • # of times I’ve been stranded in a non-destination city overnight: 3
  • # of times I made it to my destination but my checked-in luggage did not, due to weather: 2
  • # of times I made it to my destination but my checked-in luggage did not, due to airline stupidity: 3
  • # of times I’ve left the airport without my checked-in luggage because they “couldn’t find it”, and then they called me an hour later to return and come get it (yes, due to airline stupidity): 2
  • # of times I’ve had an airline courier deliver my lost luggage to me: 3
  • # of times I’ve had to hand wash clothes in the sink because I have no luggage: 2
  • # of times my plane has been struck by lightning: 1
  • # of times my plane has been delayed by more than 2 hours: too many times to count (this is just laughable now)
  • # of times I’ve been moved to a completely different airline due to delays: 3
  • # of times I’ve been stuck on the tarmac for more than 2 hours: too many times to count (also laughable)
  • # of times my plane has dropped “significantly” in the air: 2
  • # of times I’ve been yelled at by a baggage agent: 1 (but the whole group was being yelled out, not just me)
  • (and just for clarification) # of times I’ve yelled at a baggage agent: 0 (luckily, I’ve kept my cool)
  • # of times I’ve had to wait more than 1 hour for my checked-in luggage at the baggage carousel: too many times to count (crying now, not laughing)
  • # of times I’ve arrived into an airport so late, due to delays, that there were no bathrooms available to us once we got off the plane: 2 (I’m not even kidding)
  • # of roller luggage bags I’ve had just in my consulting career: 7
  • # of fantastic airline pilots, ticket agents, baggage agents, and flight attendants I’ve encountered: too many to count (I had to throw this in there, because it’s true. I’d hate for everyone to be negatively biased by the “funny” bad stuff on this post.)

Safe travels to all of you fellow consultants!

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When traveling to Pennsylvania, I usually fly U.S. Airways. Although this is not my airline of choice (I have premier status elsewhere), I don’t mind traveling on other airlines from time to time to give myself an opportunity to find out what they offer to customers.

Some things I love about U.S. Airways: they offer a “trendy” selection of mixed cocktails for purchase; their selection of food for purchase is vast and has a good mix of healthy and fatty; their flight attendants are friendly and helpful.

Some things I don’t like: legroom comes at a premium; the technology at their gates is outdated; the communication at the gates has been minimal, in my experience.

To be fair, in my home airport U.S. Airways is a minority air carrier. Therefore, not much has been invested there to attract new customers. After flying them a few times, they are low on my list of preferred airlines, but that opinion might be different if I lived in Phoenix or the east coast.

Below is a smattering of funny incidents that happened in a single day of travel. I could not make this stuff up if I tried!

Heard Friday during my 10 hour commute home on U.S. Airways:

Passenger 1, smug: “I get to go ahead because I have Platinum status.”

Passenger 2: And you’re proud of that?

In a crowded walkway in the airport:

Cart service woman, to the pedestrians walking in front of her: “BEEP..BEEP..BEEP…”

(her cart’s horn wasn’t working)

On the plane, the aircraft had just pushed away from the tarmac. Suddenly a small commotion starts at one of the emergency exit rows. An airline attendant is staring at 2 kids who are in the exit row. (side note: this is a big no-no – you must be over 18 years of age to sit in an exit row, amongst other rules)

The airline attendant was looking for 2 adults to switch with the kids. Otherwise, we were not going to be able to take off. (side note: the exit rows are usually preferable seats, as the legroom is 3-5 times longer than regular coach seats)

Airline attendant to a male adult passenger: “Sir, would you mind switching with one of these kids?”

Male adult passenger, pointing to his seat: “I’d prefer to sit here on the aisle.”

I think all of our jaws dropped. She blinks twice at him and then asks an older lady sitting in front of me instead. This woman gets up with a smile and switches seats without uttering a sound.

After straightening out the situation, she looks at all of us and says “Thank you.” Then she briefly glances back at the male passenger and says “We can take off now.”

While waiting for the parking shuttle, in a small crowd of people:

Passenger 1, on her cell phone: “Within 2 hours of taking the medication, a rash appeared.”

(pause as her caller speaks)

She looks down at her body: “Well, it’s all over my hands and arms.”

(pause)

People sitting next to her start to shift uncomfortably. She doesn’t notice and actually starts talking louder.

“No, it’s not itchy. It’s red and bumpy. I don’t know if it’s anywhere else.”

Someone sitting on her bench gets up and moves to the curb’s edge.

Finally, we all see the shuttle approaching. As it pulls up, she puts her cell phone on her shoulder, grabs both of her bags with each hand, and enters the bus. She chooses a seat near the back.

No one sits next to her.

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