Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 10 / Waiting in Line 1 Hour Before The Plane Takes Off is Stupid


So today I was flying to Miami, yes I know I said I wasn't going anywhere but an emergency came up and I had to fly down for the night. Usually I try and get to the gate about 10 minutes before the plane boards and spend the rest of the time searching for a Starbucks in the airport to get my fix before the flight.

As I was walking past the gate that my plane was leaving from, about an hour before boarding and before the plane was even at the gate, I looked over and saw this guy. I will bet you $20 that you can't walk past a gate and see one of these guys standing at the line to board the plane hours before the planes even boards. I would even venture that the majority of people you see doing this look just like this guy and have a cell phone crammed in their ear.

It mystifies me why anyone would do this. First lets point out that this person is a premier executive or 1K flyer with United because he is waiting on the red carpet line, meaning this guy is going to board first anyhow. The airlines have gone through great trouble to assign seats, put zones on your board pass so that you don't have to stand in line for 2 hours before the plane takes off. Now if your elite with United you board first anyhow, I usually board at this time, and I don't understand the big advantage to being the first one on the plane or the tenth, I mean after all there are 200 seats on the plane, I don't think they are going to run out of room (of course they might if they are all as big as this dude). None the less, there they are, the line standers, as if they were waiting to get tickets to Dave Matthews as opposed to boarding a stupid plane. Even if your sitting in first class and boarding first, there will be some moron standing in line 2 hours before the plane takes off.... your in first class...relax for god sakes.

Anyhow this is another installment of silly people at the airport. Someone needs to pass out yoga tapes at the gate to the line standers, they will live longer.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Most Miserable Airports in the US

Most Miserable Airports

This table ranks the 47 largest hub and nonhub airports according to a combination of on-time performance and average load factor. The airports with the highest Airport Misery Index have the worst combination of late and crowded flights.

On-time performance data are year to date through April 2007. Load factor data are year to date through February 2007.

Airport

City/Name of airport

Pct. of flights on time

Percentage of flights delayed

Average load factor

Misery Index ranking (lower is better)

DTW

Detroit: Detroit Metro Wayne County

61.1

39.0

76.9

47

ORD

Chicago: O Hare

57.7

42.3

75.8

46

CLT

Charlotte, NC: Charlotte Douglas International

61.2

38.8

76.0

45

JFK

New York: Kennedy International

57.6

42.4

75.4

44

EWR

Newark, NJ: Newark Liberty International

61.0

39.0

75.7

43

MSP

Minneapolis/St. Paul: Minneapolis St Paul International

67.1

32.9

76.2

42

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 9 / The Ups and Downs to the Aisle Seat

I have always been an Aisle seat passenger, I think most people who travel for business are. Long since past being wowed by the view outside the window, I choose the Aisle seat for an easy way in and out of the plane.

Lately I have been rethinking my seat choice for several reasons. There are definitely some bad things about sitting in the aisle and they have been getting worse lately. First lets start with the downside of sitting in the aisle during boarding. People bring entirely too many things on the plane then they can carry. The airlines have a crew that do nothing but carry and stow your bag for you but people insist on dragging them onboard. The problem is most travelers do not have the physical dexterity to carry a suitcase, briefcase and their lunch down the narrow isles of the plane without hitting every single person sitting in the aisle seats. Come to think of it, a lot of people themselves getting on the plane are too big to fit down the aisle. I have grown very weary of being smacked by 20 to 30 times a flight by Conan the Adventurer lugging 4 carry on's.

In flight its not bad to have the aisle seat for the most part except for some reason, when the flight attendants are handing out drinks they always seem to park their cart right by my seat. When your sitting next to your garden variety 300 pound business gorilla taking up 1/2 of your seat on the right side, being sandwiched in my the drink cart for 30 minutes really sucks.

The last reason I am tired of the aisle seat, and the funnest to watch, is when the plane pulls to the gate. Contrary to popular belief, sitting in the aisle seat doesn't get you off the plane faster. What it does is give the illusion of getting off the plane faster. It's so funny to watch aisle people as the plane gets close to the gate. First they take their seatbelt off as the plane slows to pull into the gate area, as if that 2 seconds it takes to take the belt off is going to make that much difference. Then they all place their hands on each arm rest and get into a spring position so that when the seat belt sign turns off they can be the first ones to hurl themselves into the aisle. Next time you take a flight you really have to watch this, its the funnest thing you will see on the plane aside from the size of your peanut bag. Once the aisle cattle have cleared the pen and are standing ass to ass in the aisle, for reasons past understanding, they all have to take their luggage out of the bin at the same time before the door even opens. Since their is not enough room for all these idiots to stand at the same time, when they take their bag out they inevitably smack three or four people in the head. I have never understood why they don't wait until its their turn to get off the plane to take their bag down but once again I guess that 5 seconds it would take is just too much.

After much consideration I am thinking that the window seat might be the way to go. As long as people don't act like they were born in a barn and let you out when its your turn, you eventually get off the plane just like everyone else and you save yourself from several chances to get concussed. As an added bonus you get a place to lean your head against so you can sleep and actually the view out the window is nice sometimes.

Promise me next time you fly you watch the aisle people, its the best show on the plane. You haven't seen anything like it since fifth grade when everyone was waiting for the second hand to hit three o'clock so you can jump out of your desk. Yes, the airlines regress us back to grade school everyday.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Where is Andrew this Week

It is time once again for another episode of "Where is Andrew This Week". Well Andrew was going to be in San Antonio from Monday to Thursday this week but my meeting got canceled. As you can imagine my wife and dog are amazingly happy that Andrew is going to be at home this week !!

Well most likely be at home this, at least I will be at home more this week then I was going to be, there is still a chance that I might need to go to Miami Florida but that will only be for 1 night, much better then the 4 I was going to be on.

Since I caught a cold a week ago from my wife, and all the flying has infected my right ear from my cold and the airplane pressure, I am definitely glad I will be on the ground for a couple of days, maybe I will actually be able to hear again soon.

For those of you keeping track this our travel total adding last week to my year to date nights at Hilton:

ANDREW
HHonors #: ########

HHonors Diamond VIP

200,259 TOTAL POINTS

Qualifying Summary

Stays Completed: 33
Nights Completed: 67
Base Points: 142,945

I hope everyone out there has a great week!

The Air Sick Author

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My Hotel Shampoo Collection



There are two things that I collect from every hotel I stay at, hotel keys and the soap and shampoo they leave.

I keep the keys so I can keep track of all the different places I have been. The soap and shampoo I keep for my mom who swims allot and she puts them in her gym bag. Today we cleaned out the cabinet under the sink only to discover that we have an avalanche of hotel soap, shampoo, lotion and conditioner. I hadn't realized that I had collected so many from all my trips but I have been travel more this year the normal.

I went through all of it and packed a box for my mother and by the time I was done the box weighed 23 pounds and over 500 items in it! That is a collection out of control.



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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 8 / How to Pick the Best Seat


One of the best secrets of frequent travelers is knowing the best seats on every kind of plane when you buy your ticket. Each different kind of plane on each different airline have good and bad seats and usually you don't figure out which one you have until you get on the plane. Amazingly, if you pick the right seat, you can end up with extra legroom and a wider seat then the people in front of you.

Of course you cannot memorize the best seat on every plane, but fortunately there is a great tool online to find the best seat www.seatguru.com . They list every airline and every plane giving you a map of the best seat on each. Red seats are the ones you want nothing to do with, green are the ones you want to snag and yellow...well those are a last resort.

Another hint though, allot of the good seats are blocked out for frequent travelers so if you plan on traveling a lot during the year try and stay with one airline to make their elite program so you can grab them.

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Hilton Suites Chicago/Magnificent Mile




I have rated allot of hotels on this website and not many I choose as excellent, but Hilton Suites in Chicago earns it. Not because its opulent or amazing luxurious, although its luxuriously modern and functional. I think its outstanding because it has absolutely everything you could possibly need in a hotel on business or pleasure.

The rooms are very updated, modern, well maintained and clean. The suite is perfect for those on business wanting a place to work in the living room while watching tv and on the internet. There is lots of room to spread out with a full size couch, plasma tv that you can adjust to any place you are sitting, a very functional desk and internet access. The bathroom is spacious and full size which is rare in a big city but always appreciated. The bedroom has a wonderful bed and while the bedroom is not huge, really all you are doing in there is sleeping so how much room do you need in there. The staff is wonderful and friendly. There is starbucks in the lobby and the hotel restaurant is really good, people from outside the hotel eat there.

I rarely run across hotels that I am completely comfortable with enough room to work, sleep and bathe but this hotel has everything you could possibly need and you will feel very comfortable in the suite with plenty of room to spare. It doesnt have the luxury of the Drake or Weston but it has everything you need in a business or pleasure hotel to have a wonderful stay.

Even if you dont work out you should check out the pool and fitness facility, they are on the top floor and have a great view. While the fitness center isnt huge it has modern well maintained equipment.

Excellent stay at a great hotel with great rooms and services in the perfect location for walking around to eat or shop. If you are in town on business this should be at the top of your list.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gallery ONE - A Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel Ft Lauderdale




I recently stayed at the Doubletree Suites in Ft Lauderdale for business for 2 nights.

The reviews for this hotel are right on, the hotel is very nice. The rooms are very spacious with their own kitchenette, living room, bedroom and bathroom. The living room has a 42" plasma tv, the bedroom a regular tv. The living room has a sofa, dining room table and chairs. The bathroom is very nice size with a wonderful rainfall shower (there is no tub). I will say it is noisy, you are better off getting a room facing the water, mine was on the corner facing the water but also by the bridge where most of the noise comes from...its not overwhelming but it would nice if it wasn't there.

The room service was prompt and very room. The hotel has a nice fitness center with modern equipment. The hotel is very close to the beach and connects to the Galleria mall where you can also find restaurants and shopping. The A/C doesnt cool the room as much as I prefer, I like a really cold room to sleep in and the A/C doesn't cool much below 70 so if you like that also you may find it a problem.

Overall very nice, although I have to say that they have just built a new Hilton on the beach not far from here and I will probably stay there next time im here, otherwise I would have no problem coming back..

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Monday, April 21, 2008

I Am a Cell Phone Magnet

While I was waiting at the gate today for my flight to start boarding I noticed that I was mystically attracting every over-indulged, khaki clad Donald Trump wanna be on a cell phone. Like watching the migration of Canadian Geese, they were start talking away at the end of the terminal and end up standing next to me, blabbing loudly in my ear.

I know everyone has seen or heard these people in the airport, it is as if the cell phone sucks out their brain the minute they put the receiver to their ear and they start walking in random patterns in the middle of the concourse, bumping into everyone, while yelling on their phone as if they were sitting in the their living room.

I don't know pheromone I give off, but they all inevitably end up right next to me. Regardless of where I moved in the gate area, I would turn around and 30 cell phone toting autotrons would be pursuing me, waiting for me to stop so they could simultaneously yell in my ear. Amazingly, it doesn't even matter what time of day it is, there they are.....who in the hell do you talk to (or who wants to talk to you) at 1 am???

Police departments have small devices they use to block cell phones in a 50 foot area and if I ever get my hands on one of these things I will be the happiest little camper at the airport. If the airlines ever let people talk on cell phones in flight we should all just blow our brains out. You can't help overhear these conversations either, and most of them are pretty idiotic. They will call someone and say, "I am sitting on the runway", wow that is really important time sensitive information you should share immediately. The person on the other end of the line must be bi-polar by now from listening to all your calls.

To my fellow telephonies, try and remember a few things that will make you more likable if you must blab all day long:

1. The only person who finds your call interesting is you, stop pretending your sitting in your living room and remember that there are 1,000 people around you and none of them care about your business deal hot shot.

2. If you must talk on your phone, try and find a place where you can have a little personal space and don't mindlessly invade other people's space because your brain waves are temporarily blocked by the radio transmission.

3. Look around and ask yourself, if I stand here am I in everyone's way? If the answer is yes get off your phone or move !

4. The ring tone that you think is so cool.......isn't ! This applies directly to men and women who are past puberty...it is no longer cool for a grown overweight woman to have "baby baby" as your ring tone, get something less annoying or just turn it on at your cougar meetings.

5. If you walk around all day with one of those little bluetooth cockroaches stuck behind your ear even if you aren't talking on the phone realize this...people don't think you look important, they think you look retarded....a boss that I admire once told me that you can tell who the important people are because they don't have to answer the phone.

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Where is Andrew this Week

Hello All,

Writing to you on the road again this week from Orlando Florida and Ft. Lauderdale Florida. I will be in Orlando for two days and then drive to Ft Lauderdale for one night then fly home. I am staying at one of my favorite hotels in Orlando, probably one of the best I stay at and will send you stories from the road. I am going to miss my family, I am so glad they are understanding of my time on the road !

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yahoo Online News is a Joke


Has anyone ever successfully watched news video on yahoo news?? Usually when I am sitting int he airport I will try and watch news clips from yahoo news. The amazing thing is yahoo has figured out how to get the commercials to play, they play every time, but when it gets to the end of the commercial and the news story is ready nothing plays on their player. Naturally you click the news story you want to watch again and sit through the same stupid commercial all over again.

Its my conclusion that Yahoo News really isn't a news video player, just a commercial player. Stick with CNN you wont loose your mind. Sorry a little travel ranting for today.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pope in New York from the 17th Floor



Yesterday when I was in New York, I was working at the UN Plaza and trying to get a look at the popemobile as it came into the main driveway. I took some pictures with my phone but I was on the 17th floor and I am not sure I got a picture of it or not but it was a good try. I was hoping to go downstairs and see it from the street but I was in a meeting and couldn't.






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Thursday, April 17, 2008

New York City Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel: "Small but Comfortable in New York"



I recently stayed at the Doubletree Metropolitan in New York City for 2 nights on business. I really haven't picked a favorite hotel in New York and because of the wide range of rates I haven't been able to establish a favorite, rather a list that I prefer and book based on who has the best rate when I am in town. I have to say that this hotel is definitely going on that list.

While I have never found my "perfect" hotel in New York, the Doubletree Metropolitan definitely beats out most I have stayed in here including such 5 star favorites such as the Waldorf Astoria.

The hotel has apparently undergone a renovation because everything is very clean and new. I enjoyed the theme the hotel was going with. On check in, the staff were very friendly and helpful and continued throughout my entire stay. The staff at this hotel is some of the best I have experienced at any hotel in New York.

The room, while small, is amazingly functional. For those of you who have never been in New York, hotel rooms in the city are generally smaller then most cities (200-250 sq ft on average). Good hotels make good use of the space and this hotel is one of them. I had a king bed, small sofa, desk and stool in my room and felt completely comfortable. The only time you notice the size is when you stare at the walls (which for frequent travelers happens from time to time). The rooms furnishings all appear new and in very good shape. The bathroom is a nice size for New York with great pressure and hot water. The room had a plasma TV which you could swivel at the desk or in bed. Speaking of the bed it was very nice, one of my favorites this year.

The climate control in the room worked very well, for those of you who like a cold room to sleep in, you will like this one. You can also crack the window for fresh air which I always appreciate when I start to feel hotel claustrophobic.

The fitness center has plenty of equipment, both cardio and free weights and all are in good shape.

Overall I would definitely stay here again. I was comfortable in the room and the staff were wonderful. I still haven't found my favorite New York hotel yet but this one makes the list of return visits.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Funniest Alarm Clock Ever


I saw this one today in New York, its call "Clocky". Clocky is an alarm clock designed for people who are addicted to hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock.

When the snooze alarm is pushed, Clocky rolls off the bedside table, tumbles to the floor and, thanks to shock-absorbing materials and rubber wheels, races away from the bed. It bumps into objects, repositions itself, and eventually comes to rest in a place far enough away from the bed that its owner will be forced to get up to find it when the alarm sounds a second time. A built-in microprocessor randomly programs the clock's speed, distance, and routes, so that it won't land in the same spot twice.

This is a great invention, although I can picture myself getting aggravated with it, hunting it down and shooting it one morning. Great idea and I laughed for 20 minutes when I saw it.

For all those who have asked, you can buy one at www.clocky.net


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What Should be the New Name for Delta Northwest Airlines

During my three hour flight today I got into a conversation with my seat-mate (by the way, usually that is a really bad idea but it worked out ok this time) about the possible new names for Delta and Northwest Airlines after they merge.

We can have a little contest here and see who can come up with the best, so far out favorite is:

Delta Northwest - Latest
Delta Northwest - Death

See what you can come up with :-) have fun

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The Mystery Shower in New York


Today I arrived in New York at the Doubletree Metropolitan on Lexington Ave. I got to the hotel around 6 pm after flying from Denver and wanted to grab a shower. Now I have been a frequent traveler for over 10 years and must have stayed at a 1,000 different hotels over that time and have never been stumped by a shower.

The shower control had this mystery ring that looked like it turned on the shower. Actually the shower control had three different levers on it and I guess I didn't try the one that actually turned the shower on because I ended up calling engineering to fix my shower. Of course when they showed up and said you slide the lever on the bottom to turn the shower on I felt like an idiot, but in my defense, there were three levers on this thing and the other two do absolutely nothing. Just goes to show you that no matter how many hotels you stay at, once in a while you get stumped.

The other mystery I faced at the hotel was "where is the coffee maker". There are two things that will drive me nuts at a hotel, no paper and no coffee in the morning. I must have spent 30 minutes going through everything in the room looking for the coffee maker before figuring out that there was no coffee maker!!!!!!! At least there is a starbucks in the lobby so I guess I will shuffle down to the lobby in the morning with my duck slippers on and get a latte.

After spending an hour looking and figuring out things in the room I am starting to think that maybe I am just jet lagged.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Denver: Hyatt Regency Tech Center: "The best business hotel near Denver"




This is my second stay at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center, my first stay was about a year ago. The hotel was very good (4 dots) last time I was here, it was even better this trip.

Admittedly, one of the reasons I was very impressed this time over last time was that I was upgraded to a premium room which was wonderful. Aside from that, the biggest improvement was the staff. On my first visit the staff were not very responsive and they were outstanding on this visit, being very attentive, polite and friendly.

The rooms at this hotel are very modern, very clean, very comfortable and very well maintained. The room I had, a premium room, was about 500 sq ft with a king bed, sofa with seating area, desk area and 42" plasma TV. The bed is wonderfully comfortable and the climate control in the room works great so if you like a cold room you will be happy.

The rooms are very well decorated and they dont feel like a hotel room which is nice. Most hotels you are in seem to get all their furnishings and design from the same place, I always enjoy hotels who go with a theme that makes them different and the theme at this hotel is modern and it works great.

The fitness facility is very nice with plenty of cardo equipement and free weights. I didnt go into the pool but it looks good as well.

The entire property is spotless and the rooms are probably some of the cleanest and well maintained of any I have stayed in.

Overall, I would definitely return next time I am in Denver. I was much more impressed with this hotel on my second visit, they keep getting better.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Where is Andrew this Week

Last week I was writing to you from Boston MA and it occurred to me that I really should post where I am going as this is a travel blog and every time I step into an airport or hotel a funny story usually appears on here.

This week Andrew will be in Denver Colorado, one of my favorite cities in the U.S. Several of my friends who were displaced from New Orleans during Katrina have moved to Denver and I am looking forward to seeing all of them. I will be staying at the Denver Hyatt at Tech Center and will post a review as soon as I get back.

After Denver Colorado I head to New York City, also a fun city to visit. I will be there for 2 days working in Manhattan, staying at the Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel on Lexington Ave. It's my first time staying at that hotel, and hotels in New York are always a mystery until you arrive so I will let you know how that goes. One thing I am looking forward to in New York is finally getting a good steak, they have the best steak houses in the world there.

My travels will end this Friday, and to my wife's relief this is my last 5 day trip for awhile, the rest are much shorter. Just so everyone can keep up, since I stay mainly at Hilton properties (every now and then Hyatt) I will post my current Hilton stats which is how I keep up with how many days I am on the road in the year. The stats are a rolling 1 year, so this is how many days I have stayed at Hilton Hotels in the past 12 months ouch !!!

Hope everyone has a great week !

ANDREW
HHonors #: ########

HHonors Diamond VIP

181,639 TOTAL POINTS

Qualifying Summary

Stays Completed: 30
Nights Completed: 62
Base Points: 130,531

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American Airlines Cancellation Solution

Last week American Airlines canceled more then 900 flights in the United States. In response the president of American Airlines said the following:

Gerard Arpey, chairman and chief executive of American parent AMR Corp., said the costs of the cancellations to American will run into the tens of millions of dollars -- including vouchers to reimburse stranded customers, overtime for maintenance crews and lost revenue. An analyst with Standard & Poor's estimated it could easily top $30 million.

Arpey said that neither American's mechanics nor the FAA were to blame for the groundings, and he said he took responsibility for the cancellations. He said the company would hire a consultant to help it comply with FAA safety rules in the future.

Here is my question, if you have to hire a consultant now to ensure you comply with FAA safety rules, who has been making sure you were safe for the past 30 years? This is another example of why the airline industry in the U.S. is so screwed up. This entire incident is due to several factors all of which underline the point that U.S. airlines are incapable of self regulation.

1. The head of the FAA, like most government agencies, was a presidential lackey with no aviation experience at all, kind of remind you of FEMA doesn't it.

2. The FAA failed to enforce its own safety rules because of the cozy relationship they had with the airline industry. The safety directive regarding the MD-80's came out years ago and was never applied until Southwest Airlines made the news for failing to inspect their planes. Right after that news, Delta, Northwest and American all canceled flights in a hurry to comply with safety regulations they should have been following all along.

The only victim in this entire incident is the passengers who for the past couple of years have been flying on planes that were not safe and now are enduring cancellations because of inept airline and government oversight.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

American Airline Hell ! 900 Flights Cancelled


On my return from Boston last week, I got to see first hand what the American Airline catastrophe looked like. Last week American Airlines canceled 900 flights leaving over 100,000 people stranded across the U.S. At my conference, several people had flown American to Boston and were wondering how they were going to get home.

I arrived at Boston to come home on United, and on my way to the ticket counter I looked over and saw all the people waiting in line at the American Airline counter to be re-booked because 150 almost all flights from Boston were canceled that day. There are times I really don't like United but on this day I was thankful I was flying on them. There must have been 1,000 people waiting in line at the AA counter at Logan.


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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Looking Forward to the Outer Banks for Memorial Day

My wife and I work very hard, I travel allot during the week and she has a full time job also, so when a chance for a vacation comes around we love the beach. Several times a year we go to the North Carolina outer banks in Corolla North Carolina. Its about a four hour drive from our house and it is the perfect place to just relax.















The hotel we stay at there is a Hampton Inn which is the only hotel in Corolla. They have wonderful rooms and your own beach, and because its in a remote section of the OBX you have the beach to yourself and the others at the hotel.

The hotel also has two pools and a lazy river so if you get tired of the ocean you can also go in the pool.If you are looking for a place to go the beach and relax that isn't too touristy or crowded, check out the North Carolina OBX, you will definitely love it. We are looking forward to heading the on Memorial Day weekend...only 1 month away !!!!!!!!!!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Demise of Larry the Lobster


I had dinner tonight with friends from work who are with me in Boston Ma for our conference. Tonight we went to "The Oyster House", the oldest restaurant in the U.S. The food was fantastic and it was nice to finally have a nice relaxing dinner with friends.

I called my wife and told her that I was having lobster tonight. She asked me if they were alive and I told her that they were and in a tank. She told me that I couldn't eat him if he is alive so I made the proper introduction to the lobster, asked him his name and requested to eat him. The lobster gave me permission and I forwarded his photo to my wife for approval. At the end, Larry the Lobster met his fate on my plate but his last act was captured on photo.


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Hilton Boston Back Bay



I recently stayed at the Hilton Boston Back Bay for business over four nights. The hotel was excellent in a great location. The rooms were extremely comfortable and had larger rooms then you will find at most hotels in Boston. The room had a fantastic walk in shower with two shower heads and fantastic pressure. The beds are very comfortable and the climate control works very well. This hotel also had the best housekeeping

I haven't had at a hotel in very long time, they replaced everything, left bottled water everyday and were very efficient, I wish every hotel had housekeeping like this hotel. The hotel had a great pool and hot tub on the 7th floor and a good sized gym with modern equipment. The gym has a fridge with bottled water provided for free. There is a starbucks right across the street at the Sheraton and even though I didnt eat at the hotel there are thousands of restaurants within walking distance of the hotel in back bay, you should really venture out for sure.

The room I was in also had a great wrap around window, pretty much the entire room was a window that looked out onto downtown Boston, fantastic view !!!!

Overall a fantastic stay, great location, great staff and a great hotel I would definitely go back.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Doubletree Hotel Minneapolis - Park Place



I recently stayed at the Doubletree Hotel Park Place on Business for two nights.

This is one of those hotels where the staff make all the difference in the world. While the hotel is very nice and what you expect from Doubletree, the attention to the little extras and the service from the staff really make this hotel special.

The hotel and rooms are immaculate and it is obvious the staff takes pride in keeping the property well maintained. The room was very comfortable. I was in a junior suite, an over-sized king room, and it was very functional with a great king bed, sofa and seating area, good desk and chair and a functional bathroom. There is a standard TV in the room which works pretty well although you like to see plasma's when you travel.

The room was cleaned perfectly on arrival and throughout my stay. Housekeeping, like all the staff, pay attention to everything and its nice to come back after a long day to find everything replenished. There is free bottled water and a robe for your use. The internet worked perfectly the entire time and the climate control worked well (you can also open the windows which is nice).

The fitness room is wonderful with modern equipment (3 treadmills, 1 elliptical and 2 cycles). I didnt go in the pool but it looked very nice as well.

I ordered room serve and while it took a little while to arrive it was hot and good.

I could only find one downside my entire stay and that is, for reasons passing understanding, there is only 1 towel in the bathroom.

This could easily have been just another doubletree but the staff here is first rate, very caring and very attentive. If you are a diamond member they give you free breakfast, desert and internet and it is always nice to be recognized. I would definitely return to this hotel next time I am in town.

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Air Sick Lesson 7 / Why Group Dinners with Co-Workers is a Bad Idea

Last night I suffered through another group dinner with co-workers at my conference in Boston. For the most part I have always felt that nothing good can come out of these things. Its one thing to have dinner with a group of friends who you work with, but to have a group dinner with everyone from your company who attends one of these events is a train wreck waiting to happen.

No matter how much you enjoy your job, there are always people you work with that you can only marginally stand, the kind you give pleasant smiles to around the office but wouldn't want to be stuck somewhere with them for any extended period of time. Throw in a company paid dinner where alcohol is being served and they quickly pass being people you can marginally stand to people who get on your last nerve.

So here I was at one of these functions last night and of course several people decide to get lit and show everyone the real side to them. For three hours, you sit and watch grown men and women turn into pre-pubescent boys and girls. The more drinks, the more there marginally good side is pushed to the back and the real them pushes to the front all the while you are looking for a way to tunnel out of the restaurant and get the hell back to your hotel. I must admit you do gain some very valuable information about the way people are when they are acting this way, but since I already had a suspicion that I didn't like them very much I am not sure if it was worth three hours of being stuck at a table with them to confirm it.

By the end of the night I counted about five different holy wars being started between the various factions of co-workers. I confirmed that the people I really didn't care for before was completely justified after watching them down a couple of vodkas and seeing the real them shine through.

Bottom line, a work environment is fragile enough from 9 to 5. If you think throwing these group get togethers leads to team building your out of your mind. Keep work at work, social time should be for friends and family, nothing good comes out of co-worker drink fests.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Airline Complaints Rise ..... Gee Really

I am in Boston Massachusetts this week for a conference after having one of those flights from hell, being held hostage aboard a United flight from Washington D.C. Actually hostage might be wrong because I think even hostages get water and food in captivity, for the six hours I was sitting on the tarmac I didn't rate such privilege maybe I was a bad hostage.

I arrived at the hotel in Boston at 12:05 am and of course the restaurant closed at 12:00 am, so I managed to find a Chinese restaurant near the hotel and believe me, no food you have to find after midnight is going to be any good but at least it was food.

I awoke this morning to the USA Today newspaper with a headline that airline complaints have hit an all time high, not really news for me after living through it last night. I posted the results below but frankly, I don't think there is such a thing as a good airline anymore. Just remember, before you fly, be prepared and pack something to drink and eat until the air traffic controllers pay the ransom at release you.


BY THE NUMBERS

Rate of consumer complaints per 100,000 passengers, according to the 2008 Airline Quality Rating survey by the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wichita State University. The study is based on Transportation Department statistics. The category covers complaints in 11 areas, including fares, ticketing, customer service, flight problems and animals.

Airline 2006 2007
Air Tran 0.62 0.83
Alaska 0.52 0.76
American 1.09 1.65
American Eagle 1.03 1.17
Atlantic Southeast 0.74 1.21
Comair 0.63 1.44
Continental 0.88 1.09
Delta 1.03 1.81
Frontier 0.49 0.66
JetBlue 0.40 0.78
Mesa 1.26 0.83
Northwest 0.88 1.43
SkyWest 0.68 0.71
Southwest 0.18 0.26
United 1.36 2.25
US Airways 1.36 3.16
Source: Airline Quality Rating survey

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 7 / The Worst Part and Best Part About Traveling

The majority of my traveling is for business, the work I do keeps me on the road quite a bit. People who don't travel for work always tell me that I am so lucky to be able to see all these places and stay at hotels. Honestly the thrill of traveling wore off a long time ago, now its just a job and when your traveling for work you never really enjoy the places that you are going to, basically you are going to work and back to the hotel. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy what I do and I like meeting the people I go to see but what truly makes me happy is getting back home to the best wife in the world and my little girl (dog).

I spend most of the time on the road wishing I was with my family. The only thing that really saves me from a mental breakdown is that I really enjoy what I do and I have a wife that is very supportive. We talk on the phone the entire time I am gone and web cam when we can. We are used to having to be apart as for 2 years we lived in different countries.

The best part of my traveling is the plane home, I know that when I land, get my bag, get my car and drive home that my family will be there waiting for me and I will be back with the people and dog that makes me the happiest.

I am thankful everyday that I have a wife who is so wonderful to put up with the all the times that I have to be gone and I am lucky to have the best family in the world to come home to, that is what makes business travel worthwhile.

Its kind of unique to have weekly experiences that make up the worst and best of a situation but traveling is one of them and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Even though I am apart from the ones I love, it makes coming home the best part of my week.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 6 / Making Your Way to the Gate

After surviving the ticket counter without being arrested, you are now ready to begin the odyssey to the gate. Pace yourself and bring provisions because you can count on two things; first, your gate will be the last gate at the last terminal in the airport and two, that gate will change six times before you actually get on the plane.

The first stop is the security checkpoint. This is where the mountains of people who were standing in the ticketing line from every airline in the airport come together like a merging battalion of troops.

Nothing moves fast in the security line, the only luck you ever have here is you time your flight where not many people are at the checkpoint, usually that is anywhere between 2:00 am and 4:00 am. This is also a time when all those people from the ticket line who finally got their act together figure out where they are going have now lost it again because of some kind of brain aneurysm that effects their short term memories. Somehow between ticketing and the security check point, 80% of the people in front of you have packed their boarding passes in their luggage, lost their ID’s, and let their children go romping through the fields of mass humanity.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Hilton Grand Vacations Club on International Drive



I recently stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club in Orlando Florida on business for 1 night, although I wish it could have been more days.

The hotel is absolutely amazing, the grounds, pool and facilities are first rate. The rooms are HUGE with a separate dining room, living room, bed room, bathroom, kitchen and yes, its own washer and dryer. The bathroom has a whirlpool tub and stand up shower. The bed is fantastic. The living room has a large flat screen TV with a bose surround sound system. The dining room has a full size dining table for 6 with a full kitchen. The room is immaculate and very well maintained. It is like staying in a condo vs a hotel room, I could easily stay here for a long trip and will definitely return next time I am in town.















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