Saturday, May 31, 2008

Funniest Airline Flight Announcements

Occasionally, airline attendants make an effort to make the "in-flight safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

1. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

2. Pilot: "Folks, we have reached our cruising altitude now, so I am going to switch the seat belt sign off. Feel free to move about as you wish, but please stay inside the plane till we land. It's a bit cold outside, and if you walk on the wings it affects the flight pattern."

3. After landing: "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

4. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. Whoa!"

5. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced: "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

6. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight XXX to YYY. To operate your seatbelt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seatbelt and if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with two small children, decide now which one you love more."

7. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you or your money more than Southwest Airlines."

8. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation. In the event of an emergency water landing, please take them with our compliments."

9. "As you exit the plane, please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

10. "Last one off the plane must clean it."

11. From the pilot during his welcome message: "We are pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately none of them are on this flight."

12. This was overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day. During the final approach, the captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the flight attendant came on the PA and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts fastened while the captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

13. Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

14. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a, "Thanks for flying XYZ airline." He said that in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally, everyone had gotten off except for this little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sonny, did we land or were we shot down?"

15. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the flight attendant got on the PA and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt up against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

16. Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of us here at US Airways."

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United Airlines has Worst Customer Service Record in History

United Airlines stranded Brenda Kitterman in Mexico. Her ordeal didn't end there.

Kitterman, 43, learned last December that United (UAUA) had canceled the first leg of her trip home to Montana from Cancun because of a blizzard in Denver.

But rather than re-book her on different flights or promptly refund the price of her return tickets, United agents in Mexico told her she was on her own, she says. To get home, Kitterman was forced to buy new tickets to her hometown of Kalispell, Mont., on Delta Air Lines, at a cost of $1,198, more than she had paid for her entire week's vacation in Mexico.

Kitterman, a Montana state employee, e-mailed a complaint about her experience to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as did 942 other United passengers last year.

Their discontent with United reflects a particularly vexing problem for the USA's second-largest airline: a severe decline in the quality of service at a carrier that once prided itself on just that.

Multiple studies show plunging satisfaction with the industry generally. The April DOT complaint rate for US Airways, still grappling with its 2005 merger with America West, tripled year-over-year. The rate for Delta Air Lines, which just emerged from Chapter 11 reorganization, doubled.

But United arguably has fallen furthest and fastest among the big U.S. airlines in its ability to keep customers satisfied. Company officials acknowledge service problems and say efforts are underway to fix them. The performance of Chicago-based United, one of four major U.S. carriers forced into bankruptcy reorganization after the Sept. 11 attacks, is a sign of the times in an industry trying to accommodate near-record passenger volumes with fewer workers.

Some indicators of trouble:

•United had the industry's highest rate of passenger complaints to the DOT for all of 2006: 1.36 complaints for every 100,000 passengers boarded. By April, the latest month for which DOT has data, that rate had risen to 2.6 per 100,000. Last year, United's first year out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saw its worst showing in DOT complaints since 2002, the year the airline filed for Chapter 11.

•In the University of Michigan's 2007 American Customer Satisfaction Index, airlines scored lower than at any time since 2001, and United scored at the bottom of the industry. The ACSI gauges satisfaction with companies and industries based on thousands of interviews.

•The most recent Airline Quality Rating, done by Wichita State University and the University of Nebraska, ranked United No. 8 of 18 big and small airlines for 2006. American (AMR), Delta (DAL) and US Airways (LCC) scored worse, but United slipped from No. 4 in 2004. Ratings are based on publicly reported performance indicators.

Some of United's most loyal, high-mileage passengers — who get preferential treatment in return for their patronage — say they have seen service decline.

"There were days in the not-too-distant past when United's service was fantastic, especially if you were an elite flier," says Jordan Ayan, CEO of a Chicago high-tech firm.

A million-mile United flier, he used to buy Christmas gifts for his favorite United agents at Chicago O'Hare. "Boy, have times changed."

He says a United gate agent was so rude to his daughter before her March flight that Ayan e-mailed United CEO Glenn Tilton.

Out of luck after 20-25 calls

A USA TODAY review of complaints filed in December 2006 and January 2007 with the DOT about United provides a rare window into the quality of service by one of the nation's largest airlines in the wake of deep cuts in spending and jobs.

Interviews with passengers who complained to the DOT show how hard it can be to reach one's destination, get accurate help from airline customer-service representatives, or get money refunded when a flight goes awry.

Arnold Graham, a Pasadena, Calif., lawyer who begged United for a fare refund for seven months and complained to the DOT, says he was amazed how hard it was to get what he was legally owed.

"I think the system is deliberately designed to never make a refund or listen to the customer," says Graham, whose son Justin, 22, was bumped from a United flight.

In October, Justin Graham was returning from a wedding in Oakland to the University of Michigan for exams. United bumped him from the Oakland-to-Denver leg of his trip. United switched the original plane to a smaller one, so there wasn't enough space. United didn't have a seat until the next day.

So Arnold Graham paid $830 for new tickets on different airlines to get Justin back to school.

Arnold Graham estimates he and his wife, Susan, attempted to call United agents, located in India and the Philippines, 20 to 25 times for a refund. "The system would patch me through to somewhere and then I would be dropped," he says. "It was impenetrable."

After a call to United headquarters from USA TODAY, United last month refunded him $178.62, the price of the return trip Justin never took on United.

United says there is no deliberate effort to save money by frustrating customers and says Graham's experience is not up to its standards. Officials say they are working through customer-service problems related in part to the outsourcing of jobs during the reorganization, which ended in 2006.

"We know we haven't done well, and we're doing an enormous amount of work to improve the experience for customers," says company spokeswoman Jean Medina.

United Executive Vice President Graham Atkinson calls the stories in the complaints "very disappointing." But Atkinson, United's chief customer officer, says the complaints represent a small percentage of all passengers flown.

"What you are seeing here is not acceptable, but they are exceptions to the rule," he says.

United takes steps to improve

United promoted Atkinson to the new job of chief customer officer in October. In January, United recruited a new vice president for customer experience, a new position, from Walt Disney Co., whose customer service is widely acclaimed.

During restructuring, United shed 21,000 jobs, about a quarter of its workforce, and cut annual expenses by $5 billion, yet today it is flying about as many passengers as before bankruptcy. Remaining employees work harder for less pay because of contract changes made during bankruptcy.

Among jobs United outsourced were hundreds of U.S. phone reservations and customer-service jobs. They went to contract call centers in India, the Philippines and Poland. The remaining United call centers in the USA serve only its high-mileage customers, international passengers and special groups such as military personnel.

United also eliminated 200 U.S. finance jobs, including 30 in refunds, and outsourced the work to India.

"Bankruptcy is a cataclysmic event," Atkinson says. "It forces you to think about sacred cows."

Atkinson says United is working to improve its India call centers and its refunds operation. It's increasing phone capacity and doubling the staffing in refunds.

Next year, United plans to install multimillion-dollar software so agents in different customer-service areas can share information about a customer's problem.

Vice President Barbara Higgins, the ex-Disney executive, says she wants to make United so proactive when things go wrong that customers don't need to complain.

"We need to acknowledge when something goes wrong, apologize and immediately let our customers know what we're going to do to fix it," she says.

Even refunds leave fliers leery

Passenger Carolyn Smith of Singapore complained to the DOT after what she calls a "flight from hell" from San Francisco to Hong Kong in January. Eight hours into the 14-hour flight from San Francisco, the United crew announced none of the lavatories in coach were usable, she says. Only the business cabin bathrooms worked, she says. The crew asked passengers to stop drinking so they wouldn't need the bathroom and did not serve the second meal, Smith says.

The captain told passengers there would be food and beverage waiting in Hong Kong when they arrived, but there was not, she says.

United responded to Smith's e-mailed complaint three weeks later — with an apology but no explanation for the toilet snafu. United sent her a $200 voucher; Smith would have liked a refund.

Leah Hardesty of Albuquerque says she would have liked some compassion. When she and her 19-month-old son boarded a United flight to Denver in December, the captain told passengers it would take 15 minutes to de-ice the plane. Hardesty and her son were going to Seattle to see her parents.

But United ran out of de-icer and had to use a de-icing contractor at the airport who was busy with other planes. Passengers had to sit on the plane five hours before takeoff. By the time they reached Denver, Hardesty's connecting flight to Seattle was long gone.

United could not rebook her to Seattle that day and did not offer her a hotel for the night. Fearing she and son Wyatt might have to sleep at the airport, Hardesty sought out United's main customer service desk. The line was too long to wait. In tears, Hardesty phoned her parents, who bought her a $404 ticket to Seattle on Frontier Airlines that day. United sent her a voucher for a future flight. "They treated me poorly," she says.

Kitterman, the Montana woman, waited five months for a refund. Despite months of calls and e-mails to United, she did not get any money back until late May, after USA TODAY asked United's headquarters about her case for this story.

When Kitterman arrived at the Cancun airport for the trip home, she learned United's flight to Denver was canceled.

Kitterman says United's airport staff in Cancun told her it had no obligation to re-book her, book her on another airline or refund her money because she bought discount tickets as part of a $967 vacation package sold by a tour operator. She says United's telephone agents could not re-book her for the next several days, either, so she bought tickets on Delta.

United spokeswoman Medina says the airline's staff in Mexico "should have done a better job explaining the situation and helping her find alternative arrangements." Medina says the airline couldn't re-book her on another airline because carriers don't honor others' deeply discounted tickets sold with tour packages.

United acknowledges it owed her a refund for the price of her unused ticket. Last month, checks for $1,198 arrived from United, the price of the Delta tickets — more than it legally owed her.

Kitterman says her Mexico experience has left her afraid to travel, fearful she will be stranded again with no way home. United recently sent her a $300 coupon that she could use for a future trip.

"I won't use it," she says.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Video of the Week - Dave Matthews Band Live From the Gorge

Hey Everyone, another of my favorite videos. This one is Grey Street live from The Gorge in Washington State.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Embassy Suites Hotel Columbia - Greystone

I recently stayed at the Embassy Suites in Columbia SC for 1 night on business.

The hotel is very nice, the property ground are well maintained. The rooms are clean and taken care of. The rooms have new Plasma TV's which is nice. The beds are comfortable and having the separate living room with a sofa is nice as well. The wireless internet is modern at 54Mpbs as opposed to some hotels where its only 11 so connections are speedy. The A/C doesnt work as well as I would like, I enjoy a cold room for sleeping and I couldnt get the room temperature below 70 which may be fine for some.

I recently stayed at the Embassy Suites in Columbia SC for 1 night on business.

The hotel is very nice, the property ground are well maintained. The rooms are clean and taken care of. The rooms have new Plasma TV's which is nice. The beds are comfortable and having the separate living room with a sofa is nice as well. The wireless internet is modern at 54Mpbs as opposed to some hotels where its only 11 so connections are speedy. The A/C doesnt work as well as I would like, I enjoy a cold room for sleeping and I couldnt get the room temperature below 70 which may be fine for some.

The fitness center is very nice with brand new equipment with personal TV's and headphones. The room itself looks like it has been recently remodeled. The pool and hot tub are also look very nice although I didn't go in.

Overall if you are going to be visiting Columbia South Carolina, you can't go wrong with the Embassy Suites Greystone.

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Park Central Hotel New York City

I stayed at this hotel for business for 2 days. The room was ok, nothing special. The rooms and the hotel are a bit dated and worn. The bed was a little uncomfortable and a little old. The AC works but if you like a cool room it isn't going to get there. The hotel is in a good location and the rates are pretty good for a NY city hotel, but you aren't going to be very impressed with the hotel. Its not a bad hotel but you would expect a little more based on what the web site looks like.

If you can do some bargain shopping for better time square hotels you should, there are some fantastic hotels in the area, this isn't one of them. You wont be completely disappointed but there is nothing at this hotel that will impress you either. All the little things you look for in a full service hotel such as a newspaper in the morning, your bill under the door, furnishings in good order and reliable Internet are not here.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Passenger Sues Delta Airlines for $1 Million

When I was in the fitness room in Columbia SC I was watching CNN and saw a story about a man who is suing Delta Airlines $1 million because of flight problems. At first I was thinking it was just another frivolous lawsuit but after watching the interview of the person, who is a lawyer from New York I completely understood why he did it.

After being a victim of the airlines time after time for the past 10 years and watching things just get worse, I am so glad that someone is stepping forward to make a point. The man said he was sick and tired of the airlines thinking they can treat people anyway they want and nothing will happen. I completely agree, every year it just gets worse. Airlines treat their customers as an inconvenience and takes no responsibility for anything. I completely understand why this person is doing what he is doing and I hope it makes an impact.

The government has had 3 or 4 passenger bill of rights appear on the floor of the house and senate only to send them back. The airlines are completely incapable of regulating themselves and the government is doing nothing so its about time that passengers take action. The sad thing is that every taxpayer in the U.S. has had to bail the airlines out of bankruptcies time after time and still they treat people like they are trying to go out of business. It's about time to let the airlines who treat people badly and have poor business practices to go bankrupt, maybe that will improve things for everyone else.

------ Story -------

A New York City lawyer has sued Delta Air Lines Inc. for nearly $1 million, claiming the company's incompetent and rude employees made his 80-year-old mother's birthday trip to South America a stressful, costly horror.

Attorney Richard Roth says not only did he and his family arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina, almost three days late, he had to spend unplanned thousands of dollars on food, hotels and transportation, and buy tickets for another airline.

And because Delta misplaced his luggage, Roth's lawsuit says, he had to buy new clothes for himself and family members after arriving in Buenos Aires.

Though he was promised Delta would bring his luggage, Roth says he had to drive to the airport in Buenos Aires to look for and retrieve his bags himself.

During the ordeal, Roth's court papers say, several Delta employees were ``nasty,'' ``rude,'' ``obnoxious'' and ``totally disrespectful.'' Those who were courteous were generally ineffectual in assisting him, the court papers say.

A Delta spokeswoman, Betsy Talton, said Tuesday that she could not comment on pending litigation.

Roth, 49, of Scarsdale, N.Y., said he arranged for his mother to fly to her native Argentina during the 2007 Christmas holidays. He says he and his family were scheduled to fly from the Westchester County Airport the evening of Dec. 20.

Roth said he was with his mother, his wife and his teenage son and daughter. They were to meet a 20-year-old cousin in Atlanta and take a connecting flight to Buenos Aires where they would celebrate his mother's 80th birthday.

In Atlanta, say court papers filed Friday in Manhattan's state Supreme Court, a gate agent refused to let Roth and his family onto the jet for the connecting flight, although the plane was sitting at the gate with the door open.

Roth says his cousin, already on the plane, told him by cell phone there were several empty seats. When Roth asked the agent to speak to the pilot, he replied, ``The pilot is not in charge here. I am. All the pilot does is fly the plane.''

Roth's court papers say that after he and his family spent two nights in Atlanta, a ticket agent told him Delta could not get him to Argentina before Jan. 8. So they flew to Florida, spent a night there and took an Aerolineas Argentina flight to Buenos Aires after buying one-way tickets, court papers say.

Roth said he and his family returned to New York aboard a Delta flight on Dec. 31.

Roth said Tuesday he wants $21,000 for out-of-pocket expenses and another $275,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress. He said he also wants punitive damages which would be at least three times the compensatory amount.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Another Awesome Stay in Vegas at the JW Marriott

In my rush to make it to the beach I forgot to write about my stay last week in Las Vegas at the JW Marriott Resort. It was another fantastic visit, the hotel is awesome as always.

Starting with the hotel, they keep it just like new. Everything is immaculate and looks brand new. The pool is probably the best part with waterfalls and plenty of room for everyone. The restaurants the hotel are fantastic and because the hotel isn't on the strip there are no lines! This is one of the main reasons that when I am in Vegas for work I don't stay on the strip. There is a starbucks in the lobby which is wonderful.

The rooms are the best part, twice as big at the normal rooms with wonderful balconies. The bathrooms are as big as the bedroom with a whirlpool tub and stand-up shower. The bed is probably the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in.

I love the fitness facility with attached spa. The spa is fantastic with wet and dry sauna, whirlpool, cool pool and something that I haven't seen anywhere else, a waterfall shower which I love. It's just like standing under a real waterfall and it feels fantastic. It is full service so you get robes and slippers as well.

I love the JW Marriott in Las Vegas and the best hotel there by far. If I have to stay on the strip when im there I suppose Paris or the Ventitian are good choices but for those of you who want a relaxing vacation you can't go wrong with the JW.

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Where is Andrew This Week

This is our last day at the beach at the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It has been a fantastic trip and we have a had a fantastic time in Corolla. We got up early this morning to have breakfast and fit in one more trip to the beach before we have to get on the road and drive back.

Tomorrow it's back to non-fun related travel for Andrew. This week Andrew will be traveling to Columbia S.C., which I don't know how many people have been there before but believe me your not missing much. I do enjoy the people I work with down there though and the hotel isn't too bad, but Columbia only has 1 starbucks in the entire city and its about 20 minutes away which sucks. At any point, I will only be there for 2 days and coming back home on Thursday. I will make sure I let you know all about it.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hampton Inn Corolla NC - At The Outer Banks for Memorial Day

We are now out at the beach in Corolla North Carolina for the Memorial Day weekend staying at the Hampton Inn.

The hotel is fantastic and its like having an entire beach to yourself. If you don't like crowds on vacation, you should try out Corolla on the Outer Banks. Its pretty much residential with the exception of the Hampton Inn and it is perfect for a long weekend. There are plenty of restaurants and things to do nearby in Duck or Kitty Hawk.
The Hampton Inn itself, is very comfortable with larger the average rooms, all with balcony and most with a view of the ocean. The hotel has 3 pools, an indoor and 2 outdoor pools, 1 with a lazy river. They have direct access to the beach and the beach area is only for hotel guests so its easy to find your own area out there.
Its nice to finally be staying at a hotel for vacation instead of work, makes the trip much better.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Airlines Stick it to Passengers Again

Just when you thought it couldn't be worse, the airlines roll out their latest plan for customer $15 to check a bag. I am not sure what you get for the price of your ticket now, there is no customer service, no food, no drinks most of the time, now you can scratch checked baggage off your list. In addition for the price of your ticket on American Airlines, you have to pay $15 per bag to check them. This will certainly be copied for the rest of the U.S. airline industry.

Peter Greenberg, travel editor for NBC's Today Show, understands why discount carriers charge for extras, but he thinks premium carriers like United and US Airways are stepping over the line.

"The overall problem here is the airlines nickel-and-diming us, looking at every possible aspect of our travel as a revenue center," Greenberg said by phone from Las Vegas. "It's one thing if an airline says we're low-cost and you're going to pay for everything short of breathing. At least you know going in. But an airline that brands itself as a premium legacy carrier should be ashamed of itself."

The following is a list of things you will probably have to pay for in the next couple of years:

- Jetway service charge $10, otherwise passengers will have to crawl onto the plane through the belly.

- $5 boarding fee to have the gate attendant scan your boarding pass. Those passengers not wishing to pay the fee will have to attempt to sneak past the gate agent to board the plane without being caught.

- $10 seat fee in order to have a seat on the plane, otherwise passengers will be duck taped to the outside of the plane for the flight.

- $5 seatbelt fee, $5 oxygen fee, $5 fee to evacuate the plane (these fees apply only if there is an emergency on the plane

- $10 fee to exit the plane at the end of your flight first, all others will have to wait

- $5 lavatory fee, there will be slot to place a credit card in the door of the lavatory if you wish to use it during your flight.

A day after American announced it would add a $15 fee for a first checked bag, customers and industry observers are still gauging the fallout from the move. Fliers have expressed surprise and outrage to the move, while industry observers warn the new fee could further complicate the flying experience. suggests "the new baggage fee is likely to create havoc in airports and jet aisles as travelers try to beat the system by squeezing all their belongings into carried-on bags, further straining overhead bins' capacity. And it won't just be seasoned travelers but also newer ones, who might not know they can't bring aboard water bottles, razors or nail files, which will hold up the lines at security checks."

"Everyone is going to try to beat the system," Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst with Forrester Research, predicts to "When you can check your bags for free on Greyhound, but not on an airline, it's a sad comment on the state of the whole industry," he adds. The Chicago Tribune (free registration) writes AA "will rely on security screeners to remind passengers of restrictions that limit them to two carry-on items, and that the airline's workers also would be on the lookout for passengers toting overly large bags."

'When you can check your bags for free on Greyhound, but not on an airline, it's a sad comment on the state of the whole industry.'

— Henry Harteveldt, Forrester

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It Was 107 Today in Vegas

This is my second day in Vegas and the first day at my conference. With my convertible cars roof securely in the up and locked position with the A/C on max because it was 107 degrees here today, I set out at 7 am to the conference hotel. Most of the conference was good, there were a couple of speakers who put me to sleep, although that could have been the heat.

When I returned to the hotel at the end of the day my first stop was the fitness center. Since this is a resort they also have a spa with a steam room which I always look forward to. After I finished working out (in the A/C because if you ran outside you would simply die), I hit the spa and they had a great spa for sure. One of things that I liked the best was something I had never seen before, it was called a waterfall shower. As opposed to rain showers which you have in your own bathroom, this thing was like standing under an actual waterfall. Gallons of water fell from 10 feet up while you stood under it. It sounds painful but it was really great. I promised my wife that I would not stop in the casino tonight, last night as I was walking back from dinner I made a stop and put $20 in a machine and ended up playing on it for 3 hours. This would have been fine but I forgot to call and she was very sleepy, so tonight I didn't go. When I got done with dinner I called her right away but she had already fallen asleep and was mumbling when I was talking to her so I knew she wasn't going to remember any of our conversation.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Arrived in Las Vegas

After a 5 hour flight I arrived in Las Vegas on time with my luggage this time WHOOHOO. I really wish my wife could be with me, we are staying at the hotel that we were at on my last visit to Vegas when I brought her and it always makes it more fun to have her with me.

I am three hours behind so I am getting over the jet lag but the flight was painless and I even got an upgraded rental car, a convertible !! which normally would be very nice, but its about 105 here and I dont think I will be putting the top down anytime soon, maybe at night. At least its nice to have something other then a Ford Taurus which I always get stuck at.

I will be out here until Thursday and keep everyone updated.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Where is Andrew This Week

Hello Everyone,

This week Andrew is on the way to Las Vegas NV for a conference. Having spent three weeks in Las Vegas last year, I am tired of the strip so this trip I am staying at our favorite hotel in Vegas, the JW Marriott Resort in Red Rocks. It's only about a 20 minute drive into the strip for the conference so not to bad, but you get away from all the noise. I like staying on the strip if my wife is coming with me but this time I am alone so the JW will be perfect as it's all work anyhow (although I plan on sneaking out to the pool as much as I can).

After I get back on Thursday, we are off for the Outer Banks in NC for Memorial Day weekend !!! We are staying in Corolla on the beach and looking forward to it, its been a long time since we had a vacation. We are also going parasailing so should have some great pictures for everyone.

Hope everyone has a great week !

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Favorite Video Ever - Dave Matthews

This is a great video to watch if you are ever feeling down

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

United Airlines Cuts Milage Benefits to Frequent Flyers

Well United Airlines does it again. The geniuses who run the airline industry and United Airlines figured the best way to improve its relationship with their frequent flyer's is to cut the number of miles they can receive on trips that are less then 500 miles.

Starting at the end of June, United will no longer credit customers with 500 miles if their flights were under 500 miles as they have done in the past, they will only credit you for actual number of miles flown.

Now I must say that the majority of my flights are over 500 miles, but one of the great ironies to this policy is that I regularly fly to New York which is about 250 miles from Washington D.C. Anyone who has flown in or out of Laguardia or Kennedy airport in New York known you can generally fly to London faster then you can fly to New York City. With regular delays and crowds it can take you 4 to 5 hours in delays to make a 30 minute flight. The only reason I fly to New York City instead of taking the train which is more reliable and faster, is that I am a frequent flyer with United and want the miles. Well they have just removed that incentive so the nice thing about this idiotic new policy is that now I can take amtrack to New York and actually arrive and leave on time and not have to deal with traffic.

It really makes you wonder who is in charge of United Airlines and removed any mystery as to why airlines in the U.S. are constantly going into bankruptcy. With the mental mammoths who dream up policies like this which are aimed at the very customers who keep them in business they really need to be allowed to go bankrupt so one day a real airlines can be created which provides real service, I would gladly pay more to fly on it.

Mileage Plus accrual policy for flights less than 500 miles
To ensure that Mileage Plus miles earned toward award travel on United and elite status are aligned with actual miles flown, we are revising our base accrual policy. Effective July 1, 2008, all travel on United, United Express, Ted, Star Alliance and partner airline* flights credited to the Mileage Plus Program will accrue actual miles, with no minimum. This change affects only those flights that are less than 500 miles. Flights greater than 500 miles have always accrued actual miles, and are not affected by this policy change.

This new mileage structure applies to travel on or after July 1, 2008, regardless of when the flight was ticketed. (Flights of less than 500 miles flown on or before June 30, 2008, will fall under the previous accrual policy.)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tommorow is hopefully the end of our immigration journey

Tomorrow is going to be an exiting day for us, my wife and I have our interview at USIS for her to obtain her resident alien status. It has been a long and arduous journey since she decided to move to the U.S. and join me, from the visa process through the application for permanent resident status. Hopefully after tomorrow all of our effort will come to and end. Wish us luck tomorrow and we will let you know how it goes.

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Another Long But Fun Day

Hello everyone,

Toady was another really long day, I think people who have to wake up before 6 am are crazy !! I have never been much of a morning person but this week is our company conference and I have been walking up at 5 am each day to go to the Washington D.C. Marriott. The conference itself is fun, I have had two presentations each day but standing up for 12 hours is murder.

Thankfully, my friends who are staying at the hotel take mercy on me not being a morning person and let me take naps in their room in between sessions and that has been getting me through. I hope everyone is having a great week.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Long Week at Our Company Meeting

Hello Everyone,

While I am not traveling this week, we do have our company convention at the Marriott Hotel in D.C. for all of our customer. I am definitely not a morning person but I have to be up 5 am so I can get to the hotel by 7 am and I am getting home late because we have events all night.

The good news though is that I get to see my wife each night and sleep in my own bed all week which I always miss when I am on the road. I usually bring my wife home a prize every time I travel and even though I am not on the road tonight I brought her home carrot cake from a great restaurant in D.C.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Where is Andrew This Week

Hello everyone, time for another installment of "Where is Andrew This Week". Amazingly Andrew is going to be in town all week long. I will be in Baltimore on Monday, but I am driving there and it's just a day trip, the rest of the week I am right here at home FINALLY !!! It's going to be very nice to not be in a hotel all week long and no airplanes or airport.

I hope everyone has a great week as well and while there will be no trip tales for the week as I am not traveling, don't worry I will be coming up with something for the blog and next week it's back on the road time to Las Vegas, staying at my wife's and I favorite place there so stay tuned.

Take care everyone

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Dallas TX: Embassy Suites Hotel DFW Airport North/Outdoor World: "The Best Embassy Suites I Ever Stayed In"

I recently stayed at the Embassy Suites DFW Outdoor World for two nights on business.

This hotel was by far the best Embassy Suites I have ever stayed at. Once again the thing that made this hotel special were the little things that the hotel and staff did to make my stay better. It's hard to remember all of the little things that I thought were so great at this hotel but I will try and list them all.

The rooms were very comfortable with a lodge theme. The hotel grounds and hotel rooms were immaculate and housekeeping kept them that way the entire time. There was even evening turndown service at night. On the bed every night, instead of the usual advertisements were cards with sayings on them that I thought were really great, small inspirational notes along with a card about how the hotel wanted every guest to feel at home when they were away from home.

On arrival in my room, the hotel had left water, diet cokes and fruit which were on my profile but also filled the ice bucket. Everything that I could think of that I would need, they had already done which is really rare in hotels these days. The living room area had a very comfortable couch and chair in it, along with a nice desk to work at. The bedroom was extremely comfortable along with the bed. The lodge theme was very comforting and made the room feel less like a hotel room. The bathroom was packed with amenities, everything you could think of, different kinds of shampoo and soap, a sewing kit which you never see anymore.
My bedroom also had a balcony off it which I love, its nice to go outside and get some air, but please note, not every room has these.

The pool and fitness area were great with clean and well maintained equipment. The lobby was spectacular and connected to the bass pro shop next door.

I ordered room service and it was wonderful and arrived early. Probably one of the best burgers I have had in a while.

All the staff were fantastic, always friendly and accommodating.

I really loved the whole theme of the hotel, there was something about staying in a room with a lodge feel to it that is very comforting. A great hotel room is one thing, but all the effort the hotel went through to provide extras and attention to detail that is lacking in many hotel is what made this hotel stand out by far as the best hotel I have ever stayed at in Dallas and the best Embassy Suites hotel I have stayed in for a very long time.

During this trip the airline had lost my bag, it was late at night, I had to shop for clothes and really just wanted to be at home. This could have easily been one of those bad trips and this hotel turned it around, the minute I arrived I felt relaxed and better from my trip and that is saying alot for a hotel

My next trip to Dallas, no matter where my business is, I will be returning back to this hotel. I found my all time favorite in Dallas and this hotel goes on my list as one of my favorites anywhere.

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United Express Loses My Bag......Again

Today I was flying from D.C. to Dallas Texas. The only time I usually have problems with United Airlines is when I fly on United Express, the regional carrier for United.

This time United decided that my bag should go to Ottawa Canada instead of Dallas Texas. I understand how they were confused as Dallas Texas being so close to Ottawa Canada it is very easily confused HAHAHAHAHA.

So here I am in Dallas Texas with no suitcase, the good news is they are putting my bag on a flight that will arrive at 3 PM tomorrow, 3 hours after my meeting starts. So not wanting to go to my meeting in my jeans and t-shirt that I wore today I ran to the mall after I landed and had to buy new pants, socks, shirt, belt...everything. Then it was off to CVS to get shaving cream, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste....after I was done it was $200.00 for United to loose my bag.

I asked if any of that was reimbursable which the baggage rep on the phone (who I could tell was in India) told me I could submit a claim and it would be considered after 5 to 7 weeks. I am just filled with hope in getting any of that money back.

Moral to this story, if you are going to fly one of those crappy regional airlines, take your bag on the plane !

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Hilton Birmingham Perimeter Park

I recently stayed at the Hilton Perimeter Park in Birmingham for 1 night on business.

The hotel grounds and property are very nice and well maintained. The staff was very friendly even though the room I confirmed on my reservation was not available, the front desk person found a suitable substitute, honestly though one of my biggest pet peeves with hotels is getting the reservation right.

The room was very well maintained. The whole property is going through a renovation and I was trying to figure out if my room had been done or not because everything in the room was immaculate even thought it didn't look like one of the renovated rooms. The room was very comfortable with a king bed, sofa and desk. Everything in the room functioned well including the A/C and WiFi which both performed flawlessly and two of things that are the most important to me.

The bathroom was pretty much a standard hotel bathroom but very clean and with plenty of amenities.

I didn't get a chance to actually use the fitness room as I was only here for one night, but looked in it and it seemed ok, not many machines but the ones that were there were in good order. There is also an outdoor pool.

Overall, this hotel is what you would expect every Hilton you stay at to be like. For Birmingham, its probably one of the better full service hotels in the area. There are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby and its central to the suburban business district. I wouldnt have a problem returning here.

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Where is Andrew this Week

Welcome to another edition of "Where is Andrew This Week". After a great weekend with my wife and mother who was in town visiting, its time once again to live the bliss of my weekend life and cram myself into another aluminum tube with the collection of humanity at the airport and hit the high speed bobsled to hell.

This week Andrew will be making two trips with a break in-between at home. Monday and Tuesday takes me to the magically fun city of Birmingham Alabama, and for those of you who know where Birmingham is, knows I'm being completely sarcastic. But what Birmingham lack in magic, it makes up for desolation although in their defense, they have really great Bar-B-Q.

I am back on Tuesday night through Thursday, when the fun begins all over again for a trip to Dallas Texas where everything is bigger in Texas, literally, including probably my seat mate.

Even though there are two trips this week, its still a pretty light week and I am home more then I am away this week which I am thankful for. Everyone stay tuned for travel tales, hotel reviews and news from the road in the coming week.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Hilton Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort - The Best Hotel in Ft Lauderdale

This was my second time staying at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Beach Resort and it just keeps getting better. I stayed this time for 2 nights and was upgraded to a King 1 BR Suite and it was fantastic. My first stay was in King Studio room and that was great but the 1 BR suite is awesome. This is one of the few Hilton hotels that I get upgraded every time I visit for being a diamond member, most other Hilton's do not.

The suite had a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, walk-in-closet, huge bathroom with walk in shower and spa tub and a guest bathroom in the hallway. Both the living room and the bedroom have 42" plasma TV's in them and the kitchen has a bar with three stools which makes a great place to hang out. The living room has a sofa and chair while the bedroom has a king bed and desk area. There is also a large balcony off the living room and the bed room with views of the ocean.

The rooms and the hotel grounds are immaculate and well maintained, its just as if it were a new hotel. There is a large pool area and fitness facility that is staffed and the beach is just right across the street and is staffed as well with lounger and umbrella service. (I never get to go to the beach because I am always working when im here but it looks great)

The staff at this hotel are fantastic as well. All of them are very friendly
and helpful doing little things like offering you water when you are going out for the day. Housekeeping cleans and re-stocks the room perfectly every time and are not banging on the door at 8 am which is wonderful!

This hotel, by far, is the best in Ft. Lauderdale and one my favorite hotels in the U.S. I try and stay here every time I travel to South Florida and it is always a wonderful visit.

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