Monday, March 01, 2010

Guacamole and overhead bins 

This story is hilarious, and it reminds me of something I saw on the airplane last week. After years of faithfulness to Northwest (often undeserved except that they flew to St. Cloud airport and thus I had free airport parking and short drive times), I was willing to be moved by price on the trip to Vegas last week, even if I'm not paying the full price of the ticket myself. Orbitz kicked up a low combination air-plus-hotel package at the conference hotel which used Frontier Airlines. I had never flown them before, with their reputation of being cheap and being, well, cheap. But since Delta had badly underperformed for me recently I thought at least I could save some money while being treated like merde. So I booked the ticket.

I can say it was an OK experience. Particularly given my recent trips with Delta, the seats were the same, the delays not too out of line (someone apparently "soiled" a carpet in the aisle, so they needed an extra 45 minutes to clean it) and the service passable. I would fly them again.

But there was one interesting part of the gateside experience. You are quite hassled about bringing bags on the plane, but we know that there's a tragedy of the commons problem there too (like Donald Marron's story linked above with guacamole) so you are limited in how much to take. But Frontier tries to get you down to just one bag that will go under the seat, where my legs like to go instead. So two or three times they ask for your bags, which go with all the other bags to the claims area when you land rather than picked up in skyway. This I do not like because I don't like waiting in baggage claim, and there's a greater likelihood (I think -- how do I know?) that it gets lost. So I decline.

After seating first class and their loyalty program fliers, they then invite those who only have a bag to go under the seat to board next. Basically you're mini-royalty. And at least on casual inspection, I think more people responded to the incentive to get on the plane before those like me who insisted on using the overhead bins. This did not upset me at all -- I am benefited by having their bags not compete for space with mine, and if letting them on first is the cost of this, so be it. And it appears that Frontier had found a margin along which it could change people's behavior.

Perhaps it would work -- I will let you have all the chips you want first, if you don't touch the guacamole. But maybe not because it's guac and guac is good.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Quote of the day 

I guess in a way there�s humor in everything, and everytime one of these delightful scholars get caught, the first thing all our giant brains say is, �Well, we don�t know if he�s connected to Al Qaeda.�

What exactly does that mean? You mean, does he get the newsletter? Is he a regular attendee of their annual regimental dinners, where the proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House? Does he give up one weekend a month for drilling, and then they pay for college?
Larry Miller. If they had to wait for planes like I am right now, maybe they'd show their AQ cards and to see if they can go to the club and get free wi-fi and the complementary bar. "72 virgins AND a $7 meal voucher? I love America!"


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Random question 

Is there a law that says when the temperature in any part of the old Confederacy gets below 35 degrees that all transportation ceases to function? It is clear but cold at Atlanta right now, and I have sat at the gate for my plane, scheduled for 10:24 departure, since 9:30. It is now 11:45. The plane is just now leaving Mobile (they say.) What? Did the plane just get cold in its bones and have the rumatizz (rheumatism -- alternate spelling for Beverly Hillbillies fans) flare up?

Climate change happens, people. Learn to deal with it. A $7 meal voucher in an airport with a $5 hamburger isn't dealing with it.

Meanwhile, Delta is now sending Northwest down the memory hole to "unlock more merger benefits." I miss you, Northwest. Never thought I'd say this, but I miss you.

UPDATE: One way to stop complaints: co-opt your competition. Run away Japan! Run away!


Monday, November 02, 2009

Anyone seen Atomizer? 

Buried in the article on reopening of runway 12L/30R at MSP airport this weekend we find this nugget.

The runway project especially affected such St. Paul neighborhoods as Highland Park, Mac-Groveland and Summit Hill, which are in the flight path of a secondary runway that's typically not heavily used.

A year ago, St. Paul residents filed 10 aircraft noise complaints in September. This September, there were 2,474 complaints from St. Paul, including more than 1,000 from one person.

Did he collect them all in one email, or did he call a hotline one thousand times? This was the end of the article, and I cannot tell you how disappointed I was to see it end. Who is this guy? What motivated the 1000 calls? Where does he live relative to the flight path?

I want an accounting from Fraters tout suite.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Ya sure we got an airline 

An oldie is going around Minnesota after the announcement of Delta leaving us in St. Cloud without local airport service, and as an alternative to lost souls flying for Northwest:

Did anyone notice how the story changes? They initially said they were in a heated discussion over airline policy, but now it appears they have recanted that story. 78 minutes of radio silence? This story will have enough legs to get to next Saturday's potluck.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

It takes some doing to make me miss Northwest 

But Delta, congratulations! You've done it.
Delta Air Lines announced today that it is ending air service between St. Cloud and Minneapolis at the end of the year.

The company cited weak customer demand that has seen flights between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud at about 33 percent capacity during the past year.

Travelers who have Delta flights booked after Dec. 31 will get alternative transportation options or refunds, the company said in a news release. Delta will contact customers who provided full contact information with their reservation to arrange alternative transportation, the company said in the news release.
So investments made by the area to improve and expand this airport will now have to bring someone else to use this airport. C'mon Sun Country! I've always wanted to be a fan, and I even follow you on Twitter.

In a related story, Rep. Jim Oberstar promises stimulus dollars to extend the Lake Wobegon bike trail to Eagan. /sarc

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

An open letter to Delta AirLines 

(This letter was originally sent to Delta on July 13. I have received no reply from them, or from Czech Air whose agents in Prague were part of the story. At the suggestion of several, I am posting this here to let you know at least one travel snafu. The letter has been edited for grammatical mistakes.)

I have never had flights so screwed up as this one. The ticket was reserved via Czech Air, but problems were through Delta. See etkt (deleted). My NWA WorldPerks number is (deleted).

On my way to Armenia I had a 15 hour layover in Prague. Reportedly there was a hotel room at the end of that leg of the flight. This was not received. I ended up paying for a room out of my pocket.

On way back, told at transfer desk in Prague, after already coming in from Yerevan, that my ticket to JFK had been "canceled by Atlanta-Delta." After much complaining, I received ticket to JFK. Why would you cancel a ticket for a trip that was already in progress?? And then of course I get the "extra special passenger screening" in front of the gate.

On arrival at JFK, I get in seven hours early before the next flight. There are TWO flights to MSP before mine. May I wait-list either of those, I ask. "Not in your class," replied the desk agent. Why, if those planes were not full, could I not take an earlier flight??

Your desk agents in PRG and JFK made this a very unpleasant trip back. Never had more than one boarding card. Had to buy my own hotel room in Prague to change, shower and sleep. I do not understand how "Skyteam" is supposed to make my experience in international travel better. I NEVER had these problems with NWA. I am very unhappy you have bought them.

And to add insult to injury, I typed the above in your online form, and your system did not accept any of the remaining information. I should point out that I am a radio talk show host at AM1280 the Patriot in Minneapolis, and I think this experience will make for a very good segment on my show soon.

A similar letter will be going to Czech Air.

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