Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ted is Dead

Song is gone and now too apparently is Ted. How ridiculous an idea was this from the beginning? We can't run one competitive airline so maybe if we start another, we double our chances of actually figuring out how to make money at this game. While we're at it, we'll pay them less which will not only piss them off -- minor leaguers -- it'll piss off the mainline employees who feel that management is trying to fire them (which of course it is, even while they never really said it).

And the flying experience on this so-called Southwest-kiler or JetBlue-killer? No first class, no pitch, no amenities...nothing a revenue-producing United customer would want in a flight so one's inclination to fly United on those routes was low. And the employees? No, they did not view themselves as the front line of United's survival. No, they weren't JetBlue-cheery either. Just United "service," only lower paid.

At least Song had seat-back video. So long, Ted; we'll miss you. Not.

Random Travel Tips: Hotwire

I'm a big fan of Hotwire and I've had experiences that range from merely good to truly extraordinary. In the latter camp, there's a new Intercontinental in Boston down on the waterfront. Top notch hotel, great large rooms...especially for a city not noted for large rooms...superior service. Since I was paying my own money this time (a few months back), I looked on Hotwire. They were offering a 4.5 star hotel in the Fanueil Hall area for $125. That's walking distance to my office so I jumped on it. Sure enough, it was the Interconti. I looked up on the web site and the cheapest rate they offered that night -- non-refundable also -- was $383.

I don't know why anyone would ever use Priceline when you can get about the same price or sometimes even cheaper without the hassle and childishness.

Oh by the way, here's the view of my room from the bathroom. (Yes, there's a pass through from the bathroom, also large, into the main room.) There's a lot more space between the bed and this desk than the picture shows and yes, that's a large flat screen TV.
The hotel bargain of the year.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

I flew back from Phoenix last Friday afternoon to JFK, USAir of course. Boarding begins right on time, about 30 minutes from scheduled departure. Near the end of the boarding line are the two young ladies with seats next to mine. Each is wheeling their carry-on down the aisle. Let's just say these probably weren't regulation size. Their attempts to fit things in the overhead are unsuccessful. Does this deter them? No...they keep trying. After five minutes of this fiasco, the flight attendants take notice. Their response? Remember, this is an old line carrier where the employees just don't care. They make several announcements over the PA. No response from the two in the aisle. Another three minutes go by before one of the flight attendants finally fights her way past the remaining crowd to tell the girls they have to check their bags. Arguments ensue. Finally the bags are loaded below.

Normal loading, they close the plane 10 or so minutes before scheduled departure. We were on target for that. Instead, the door is closed 7 minutes after scheduled departure. 17 extra minutes. You sure you want that extra revenue? Do airline accountants understand the difference between revenue and profitability? Given that the industry in its entire history has lost money, probably not.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

No, it's definitely not the Phoenician any more

Item 1: Our reception. Five hundred people, maybe? Three bartenders. As you might imagine, the scrum around the bar was considerable. Contrast this what happened at our PC conference in the late 80's. We had commandeered (in)famous Cabana #9 for the PC staff and friends. Maybe a dozen of us. We kept the waiter busy to a point where he said "we don't normally have this much business on a Wednesday and so we're thinly staffed" (just him), but he called for he could serve us exclusively. 1:12 vs 3:500...I'd say the attitude has changed. And the staff hasn't been redeployed. Witness...

Item 2: The men's room, mid-afternoon. It's not like this was immediately after a conference break but perhaps a good 20 minutes after. Note: this is a "high class" joint so the hand towels are cloth. Need I say more?