Thursday, July 31, 2008

Airline Flight Delays Continue to Get Worse

Across the nation, 72% of flights arrived on time through July 20, less than 1 percentage point better than the same period in 2007.

Congestion in the New York region, which causes three-quarters of delays across the USA, remains formidable. Barely six flights in 10 have arrived on time this year at New York's three major airports, according to FlightStats, which tracks flights.

These statistics do not take into account those flight deliberately delayed by the United Airlines Pilot Union.

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Using Delta Skymiles to Get Easier

Cashing in frequent-flier miles on Delta Air Lines will get easier come September. You may spend more for your seat, though.

Because of credit card partnerships and other promotions, frequent-flier miles are easier to earn than burn, said Jeff Robertson, managing director of Delta's SkyMiles program. The changes are designed to give customers more flexibility to use frequent-flier miles.

"We want the miles to be burned," Robertson said.

A round-trip domestic flight now goes for 25,000 SkyMiles. Such seats are limited, and there are restrictions when you can book a flight redeeming SkyMiles. Redeem 50,000 miles now and you have more choices.

And there are some flights on which you can't use frequent-flier miles no matter how many you're willing to burn.

The new system will have three tiers: 25,000, 40,000 and 60,000 miles. A limited number of seats — roughly 6 percent — are available at the lowest tier. At the highest tier, if there is a seat available, you can get it.

As with the current system, each leg is priced differently.

For example, Robertson said, if you've got to get to Phoenix the Thursday before the Super Bowl, you will need to redeem 30,000 for that flight. But if you're flexible about when you need to get home, the return flight might cost just 12,500 miles.

"The ability to mix and match makes it a pretty good program," said Randy Petersen, publisher and editor of Inside Flyer magazine, which reviews and rates frequent-flier programs.

A frequent criticism of frequent-flier programs, Petersen said, is "there are too many miles chasing too few seats. In this case here, every seat is available."

Travelers will still have to pay a $25 fee to book award flights that was announced this month.

Robertson said Delta is studying the possibility of using SkyMiles to pay fees, such as $50 for checking a second bag.

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Hilton Suites Atlanta Perimeter

I recently stayed at the Hilton Suites Perimeter for three nights on business.

The hotel and rooms are very well maintained. The grounds and lobby area are all very well laid out and clean. Check in was very easy and quick although this hotel does not recognize HHonors status for upgrades or amenities for some reason.

The rooms are very nice with lots of space. There is a separate living area and bedroom. The living area has a sofa, chair, desk and coffee area. There is a plasma TV in the living room and conventional tv in the bedroom. There is a balcony off the living room where you can get some air which is nice. The work area is very functional and the wifi works well, although slow at times.

The beds are wonderful, very comfortable with plenty of pillows. The bathroom has a separate stand up shower and bathtub. The room also came with a robe which is always appreciated. The only real downside to the hotel is the A/C doesn't cool that well so if you like a cold room to sleep in, which I do, this isnt going to work for you.

Overall it was a very nice, not as nice as some of the other hotels I have stayed at in Atlanta but if they were not available I would consider staying here again, but would definitely choose one of my favorites first.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

United Says It's Own Pilots are Causing Delays

United Airlines filed suit in federal court against its pilots’ union on Wednesday, asking it to stop pilots from engaging in slowdowns it said had led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the last 10 days.

The lawsuit, filed in Chicago, seeks a preliminary injunction against the Air Line Pilots Association and four pilots — Steven Tamkin, Robert Domaleski Jr., Xavier F. Fernandez and Anthony R. Freeman — claiming that the union and the pilots had organized an effort to encourage pilots to call in sick. The airline said the union was conducting a “public campaign of intimidation” meant to discourage pilots from filling in for the pilots who used their sick time, “effectively engaging in a slowdown.”

United, the second-largest domestic airline behind American, said the campaign had been under way for a year but had accelerated in recent weeks. United said it had canceled 329 flights from July 19 to 27, disrupting plans for 36,000 travelers. The cancellations cost United “millions of dollars in lost profit, damaging its reputation and customer good will,” the airline said in the lawsuit.

Just another way U.S. Carriers and their employees are looking out for passengers/victims flying on their airlines. Of course this will lead to another bankruptcy which Americans will have to bail them out of while they act like 5 year olds. Just let them all go bankrupt, it is the best possible thing that could happen.

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Baggage System Meltdown at JFK Airport

A computer glitch in a baggage handling system is causing havoc at New York City's Kennedy Airport.

American Airlines says a software problem crippled the baggage conveyor belt Wednesday morning in its terminal at JFK.

About 20 flights have been delayed by at least an hour while technicians try to resolve the problem.

The airline is sorting bags by hand, but the backup has left the terminal brimming with hundreds of bags.

Passengers were being given the option of flying without their bags. The airline is promising to deliver the delayed luggage once the issue is resolved.

At the airport, huge lines were formed at the check-in kiosks and scores of bags are piled up.

Meantime, the Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, is sorting bags manually.The airline is announcing the issue to passengers and those who don’t want to fly without their luggage can wait for another flight.American said that once the issue is resolved, the bags that are left behind will be sent on their way to the customer's destination and delivered to him or her.The residual airline delays across the country caused by the JFK baggage snafu is not yet clear. Wagner said many of the delayed flights are international.

It really makes you wonder, JFK routinely strands passengers on runways for hours on end, they can't get a flight out on time to save their life, who is running this airport? I wish someone would put this airport out of it's misery

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Atlanta is The Worlds Busiest Airport Again

Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport captured the title of "The Worlds Busiest Airport" again for 2008 with 89.4 million passengers passing through the airport.

Chicago O'Hare captured the number 2 spot again with 76 million passengers and also captured the "Worlds Worst Airport" again in 2008 with 75,999,999 passengers surveyed saying O'Hare most closely resembles what hell would probably be like.

Rounding out the top 10:

3. Los Angeles
4. Paris Charles De Gaulle
5. Dallas Ft. Worth
6. Frankfurt Germany
7. Beijing China
8. Madrid Spain

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Tired of Airlines, Try Your Own Jet Pack

Yesterday, inventor Glenn Martin rolled out his invention and an alternative to the network of hopelessly screwed up air carriers, the personal jet pack. The pack is a 250-pound piano-sized contraption that people settle into rather than strap on.

As thousands looked on Tuesday, the inventor's 16-year-old son donned a helmet, fastened himself to a prototype Martin jet pack and revved the engine, which sounded like a motorcycle. Harrison Martin eased about three feet off the ground, the engine roaring with a whine so loud that some kids covered their ears.

With two spotters preventing the jet pack from drifting in a mild wind, the pilot hovered for 45 seconds and then set the device down as the audience applauded.

With any hope in the near future, you will no longer have to endure the pride swollowing seige of todays air travel and strap on your jet pack for your next business trip to Cleveland. The FAA still classifies the pack as a personal air device which does not require a license. We can all dream anyhow.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Delta Airline Flight Stuck on Tarmac for 5 Hours as JFK

Delta Air Lines, with one of the worst track records for lengthy ground delays, kept passengers on a plane for hours Sunday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport -- and then canceled their flight.

Flight 621 bound for Las Vegas with 184 passengers was scheduled to depart around 11 a.m., but amid thunderstorms in the Northeast the crew and passengers waited on the ground for about five hours with hopes of departing, according to Delta spokesman Kent Landers.

After the crew was unable to get a time for departure and some passengers said they wanted to return to the gate, the aircraft went back and the flight was canceled, according to Landers.

"We recognize this was a challenging situation for our customers," Landers said. "It was a very, very difficult day at JFK."

Atlanta-based Delta wasn't the only airline affected. The thunderstorms led the Federal Aviation Administration to limit airline operations for much of the day at JFK on Sunday.

"It's safe to say dozens of aircraft were affected by the delays at JFK yesterday," said Pasquale DiFulco, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK. Many delays reached more than 41/2 hours by late afternoon, DiFulco said.

In those situations, sometimes airlines choose to cancel a flight, and "sometimes they'll choose to push ahead," DiFulco said.

Landers said Delta provided drinks and other "amenities" during the flight. The passengers were rescheduled for flights Sunday or Monday, or given refunds.

The JFK-Las Vegas flight was the longest of a number of Delta delays at JFK on Sunday.

And according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Delta had 22 flights where passengers waited to take off for four hours or longer in the year through May, the highest number of any U.S. airline.

The growing list of lengthy ground delays comes as Delta adds flights at congested JFK.

Gary Edwards, director of flight control for Delta, said the number of Delta's taxi-out ground delays out of 187,758 total flights during the January-May period is "statistically meaningless." But he acknowledged that passengers on affected flights are inconvenienced and said he has been working with the FAA and other entities to lower the number.

Ground delays have gotten more attention after meltdowns at JFK and other airports and passenger outcries for limits to the delays.

"Delta has a very bad record," said Kate Hanni, a consumer activist who formed the Coalition for an Airline Passengers' Bill of Rights. She added that she wishes Delta "would come forward with something more proactive for passengers."

Edwards said Delta takes the delays "very seriously."

But in the airline's operations, delays are sometimes unavoidable, he said.

"I want to focus on getting the aircraft into the air," Edwards said. "I don't want to focus on getting the aircraft back to the gate."

Probably followed by, "because thank god I'm not on the plane so who cares if it sits on a tarmac for five hours, I'm heading home at the end of the day".

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Delta Has Emergency Landing at JFK and Then Announces Bag Fee Increase

A Delta Air Lines plane carrying 167 passengers safely made an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday evening, hours after it blew a tire on takeoff from the Queens airport, authorities said.

Flight 141, which was bound for Salt Lake City, circled Kennedy for several hours to burn off fuel, then dumped extra fuel over a nearby body of water before landing, said Alan Hicks, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airport.

No injuries were reported. Passengers were taken by bus back to a terminal.

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc. did not immediately respond to an after-hours call seeking comment.

After crash landing a plane, Delta public relations figured this would be a good time to announce they are raising the checked bag fee for Delta flights.

Delta Air Lines is doubling its fee for checking a second bag to $50 for domestic flights, or $100 for a round-trip domestic flight.

The new fee goes into effect for customers who buy tickets July 31 or later, for travel Aug. 5 or later.

Atlanta-based Delta is also increasing its fees for additional bags, overweight bags, oversized bags and items that require special handling, like ski equipment.

Delta did not announce a fee for checking a first bag, as other airlines have.

"At this time we believe that the first checked bag is part of the service provided associated with the price of a ticket," Delta spokesman Kent Landers said. "But we will continue to evaluate everything given the fuel environment."

Delta said fewer than 20 percent of its customers check a second bag.

Travelers on international Delta flights will still be able to check two bags for free and first class, BusinessElite and Medallion passengers on Delta will still be able to check three bags for free.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Traveler Stuck in Airport Invents the Mini Motel

For those of us who travel, our greatest nightmare is being stuck in the airport overnight, that closely followed by having to travel into O'Hare for anything. One person, who was stuck in a German airport overnight used the time to come up with an idea.

An unscheduled overnight stay at a German airport inspired one business traveler, Frank Giotto, the president of Fiber Instrument Sales in Oriskany, N.Y., to create the Mini Motel, a one-person tent complete with air mattress, pillow, reading light, alarm clock and pillow (which he now sells for $39.95).

Asked what airports would think of a tent city of his Mini Motels, Mr. Giotto expressed confidence.

“People sleeping in chairs don’t seem to bother them,” he said. “We could be forcing the airports to come up with a solution to respond to the tremendous need.”

While it certainly isn't a hotel or home, if you are stuck in the airport for 16 hours the tent, while making you feel a little ridiculous, at least will let you get some real sleep without misaligning your vertebrae on the airport seats. The inventors next project is to come up with the accompanying shower pod that connects to the sleeping compartment.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Two Ladies Needing Fresh Air, Try to Open Door on Plane In-Flight

A plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Germany after two British women tried to open a cabin door mid-flight, police have said.

The women, aged 26 and 27, were drinking heavily and had to be held in their seats by security staff until the plane landed in Frankfurt.

They were arrested and released after two hours, Frankfurt police said.

The XL Airways plane was flying from the Greek island of Kos to Manchester when Wednesday's incident happened.

An airline spokeswoman said the women were thought to have been smoking in the plane's toilet, and were suspected of bringing their own alcohol on board.

She said they had started to swear at and threaten staff who refused to sell them any more alcohol from the bar.

The women had then said they wanted to open the door to get "some fresh air" into the plane.

The staff aboard the plane informed the two ladies that opening the door in mid-flight to get some air was an extra charge of $400.00 unless they were traveling in Business Class in which case it was only $50. Finding this unacceptable the staff restrained them or offered to throw them out of the plane, thus saving the weight and fuel of the two ladies.

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Air Canada and Continental Airlines Create Code Sharing Agreement

Air Canada aims to expand its reach to new destinations through a partnership with Continental Airlines that will put the carriers' passengers on each other's planes while maintaining their frequent flier benefits, it said Thursday.

The proposed code-sharing deal would offer Air Canada passengers more options for connecting flights while keeping its own operating and marketing costs down against a backdrop of soaring fuel prices, the country's biggest airline said.

It coincides with plans by Continental, the No. 4 U.S. airline, to join the Star Alliance group of carriers, which includes Air Canada, United Airlines, Lufthansa and others.

"Air Canada, United and Continental, between us, will have probably the most comprehensive network you can have in North America," said Ben Smith, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Air Canada. "This will also allow us to expand our ability to loose peoples bags on two different hemispheres, and oh yeh, we still aren't giving you any damn peanuts."

"On another track, we are working with Lufthansa, United, Continental, to form a quadrilateral joint-venture trans-Atlantic alliance, and we've applied for immunity to start working on that."

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Qantas Passenger Discuss Crash Landing in Manila

MANILA (AP) — The 346 passengers were cruising at 29,000 feet Friday when an explosive bang shook the Qantas jumbo jet. The plane descended rapidly. Oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling as debris flew through the cabin from a hole that had suddenly appeared in the floor.

It wasn't until they were safely on the ground after an emergency landing that they realized how lucky they had been: A hole the size of a small car had been ripped into the Boeing 747-400's metal skin and penetrated the fuselage.

The eerie scene aboard Flight QF 30, captured on a passenger's cellphone video-camera, showed a tense quiet punctuated only by a baby's cries as passengers sat with oxygen masks on their faces. The jerky footage showed a woman holding tightly to the seat in front of her as rapidly approaching land appeared through a window. Loud applause and relieved laughter went up as the plane touched down.

"One hour into the flight there was a big bang, then the plane started going down," passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne, told The Associated Press by phone from the airport. "There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation."

She said a hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin.

After the pilots' initial rapid descent, "the plane kept going down, not too fast, but it was descending," Scaffidi said, adding the staff informed passengers they were diverting to Manila. TV screens on the backs of seats allowed them to track their route to the Philippine capital.

"No one was very hysterical," she said.

June Kane of Melbourne agreed, telling Australia's ABC radio: "It was absolutely terrifying, but I have to say everyone was very calm."

Amazingly calm, in fact.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Qantas Jet Makes Emergency Landing in Manila

This week has been emergency landing week for airlines around the world, particularly Northwest Airlines who has had the hardest time keeping planes in the air making three emergency landings in three days. Well even the worlds safest airlines, Qantas, wasn't immune, with a 747 making an emergency landing in Manila when a hole developed in the side of the plane.

A hole the size of a small car in the underside of a Qantas jumbo jet carrying 346 passengers over the South China Sea forced the pilot to make an emergency landing Friday after a rapid descent.
The Boeing 747-400 was cruising at 29,000 feet when a loud bang rattled the plane. Video shot by a passenger shows people sitting with their oxygen masks on as the jet descended quickly to 10,000 feet. Applause erupted as the plane touched down safely.

There were no injuries, but some passengers vomited after disembarking, said Octavio Lina, Manila International Airport Authority deputy manager for operations.

An official at the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident was not domestic, said initial reports show it was not related to terrorism.

Flight QF 30, from London to Melbourne, had just made a stopover in Hong Kong.
"One hour into the flight there was a big bang, then the plane started going down," passenger Marina Scaffidi, 39, from Melbourne, told The Associated Press by phone from Manila airport. "There was wind swirling around the plane and some condensation."
She said the hole extended from the cargo hold into the passenger cabin.

"No one was very hysterical," she said.
June Kane of Melbourne described how parts of the plane's interior broke apart in the depressurized cabin.

"There was a terrific boom and bits of wood and debris just flew forward into first (class) and the oxygen masks dropped down," she told Australia's ABC Radio. "It was absolutely terrifying, but I have to say everyone was very calm."

A report by the Manila International Airport Authority, quoting pilot John Francis Bartels, said the plane suffered an "explosive decompression." Australia's air-safety investigator said an initial investigation suggested "a section of the fuselage separated."

Lina said the cabin's floor gave way, exposing some of the cargo beneath and part of the ceiling collapsed.

"There is a big hole on the right side near the wing," he said, adding it was 7½ feet to 9 feet in diameter.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Credit Card Data Compromised from Check In Kiosk

WestJet has stopped allowing customers to check in with their credit cards at the self-service kiosks in 28 Canadian airports, as the federal Transport Minister seeks answers in the wake of an investigation into the security of the kiosks.

Visa started investigating after banks noticed apparent fraud on cards of some people who had flown out of Toronto.

While no one is saying exactly what pattern sparked the probe, Visa purchases are monitored by some of the world's most sophisticated algorithmic tools, called "neural networks," that watch for and flag irregular spending behavior.

An example of a suspicious transaction could be a $1,000 purchase on a card that has never been used for more than $50, or an out-of-country purchase on a card that has only ever been used in one town.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Homewood Suites Hartford South-Glastonbury

I recently stayed at the Homewood Suites in Glastonbury for three nights on business.

The hotel grounds and lobby are well maintained and clean. The hotel has a pool, fitness center and basketball court, all of which are very nice although has limited equipment.

The rooms are comfortable, functional and well maintained. Each room has a kitchen area, living room, separate bedroom and bathroom. The kitchen has a refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher. The living room has a sofa along with a work area. The internet is both wifi and wired and functions very well. The beds are comfortable and the climate control works very well.

I had breakfast one morning and was good, not great, but what you expect for a free breakfast. The staff all seemed pleasant although housekeeping was hit and miss, not refreshing all items every day.

Overall it was a good stay, I would definitely stay here again next time I am in town.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Rental Car Gods Smiled on Me

Hertz Rent A Car is usually pretty good about upgrading my rental car, although honestly sometimes you wish they wouldn't because they definitely have a sense of humor about it. In Vegas last month it was 105 outside and they upgraded me to a convertible, like anyone would put the top down on a car when its 105. The last couple of times they have put me in a Mercury Grand Marquis which if anyone knows this car, the only people who drive them are 80 year olds or cops.

This trip the Hertz Upgrade god was nice to me, they gave me a brand new Volvo S90 which is really nice. On top of that I am here for four days so I get a chance to enjoy it. Every now and then the travel angels are looking out for me

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A Bad Week For Flying Northwest Airlines

Northwest Airlines has had a bad week for flying, three emergency landings in three days.

Yesterday, a Northwest flight from Tampa to Detroit had to make an emergency landing during a Dayton Ohio air show when one of the engines on their 757 failed. The 182 passengers were bussed to Detroit, which considering this week for Northwest was probably a safer alternative then flying.

On Sunday, a Northwest flight from Philadelphia made an emergency landing in Eau Claire Wisconsin, better know as the middle of nowhere, when smoke started entering the Airbus cockpit. The passengers were transferred to another plane to continue to Minneapolis MN.

Today, a Northwest flight from Minneapolis to Chicago O'Hare had to land in Madison Wisconsin, a little closer to no where, when the plane suffered a computer malfunction in the pressurization system. The passengers, who were happy not to be going to O'Hare anymore, just stayed in Madison.

So apparently the FAA inspection system, which was broken just a couple of months ago forcing many airlines to cancel flights because the planes hadn't been inspected since the Carter administration, is working just fine now. On the upside, Wisconsin got to add two new non-stops to their state for the day.

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The Mystery of the Three Hotel Towels

There is a mystery abound in hotels around the world that I have been trying to figure out for some time. It's not why they put the little triangles on the toilet paper or why they always make the little rose bloom on top of the tissue box when all you are going to do is take it off anyhow, the mystery is much more hmmmm mystifying.......

Why three towels???

I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why hotels leave you three towels. Sometimes a person showers at night or after the gym and then in the morning, that is two, and then you are left with the extra towel. Then, if there are two of you in the room, and you both use one towel at night then one of you is left with the soggy towel in the morning which no one wants. Three is too many for 1 person and not enough for 2 people so why three towels???

For those hoteliers out there, consider throwing in another towel. The one clean towel left on the rack when I am traveling alone is a source of irritation but not nearly as bad as when I have to fight with my better half over who is going to get stuck with the soggy towel in the morning. End this mystery now so there can be harmony in hotel world again.

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Monday, July 21, 2008

State Department to Issue Passport Cards

For those of you who travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean islands and worry about taking your complete passport book on the beach with you, the U.S. State Department has come up with an option for you, the U.S. Passport Card.

The passport card facilitates entry and expedites document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. Otherwise, it carries the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and is adjudicated to the exact same standards.

The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book. The card has the same period of validity as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger. Adults who already have a fully valid passport book may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time applicants pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.

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Where is Andrew This Week

Hello Everyone,

Well after an amazingly busy last two weeks where I flew from London to Chapel Hill to Seattle I spent a nice relaxing weekend at home with my wife but alas, it is Monday and here I go again. This week I am in lovely Hartford Ct until Thursday. I make fun of Connecticut but actually I really enjoy being with the client I am with this week and the hotel isn't bad so all in all it could be much worse, like back in Cambridge UK.

I will keep everyone updated on the Hartford hotel scene and any new and exciting stories that crop up this week. Hope everyone is well and see you soon.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Want to Feel Like a Billionaire When you Travel?

Ever wanted to feel like a millionaire when your traveling, how about a billionaire. Zimbabwe's inflation is so bad the country has recently issued a 100 billion dollar bank note to go along with the new 500 million dollar note to adjust for the rapid economy.

So if you really want to feel like a billionaire take a trip down to Zimbabwe. For a plus you can carry around a couple of billion dollars while your there, the down side, you hotel is going to cost about that also, and it isn't the high roller suite at the bellagio.

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My Favorite Philippine Animal

I am a Tarsier fan, ever since my wife who is from Bicol told me about them. We are planning to visit the area in Bohol that Tarsier's live and I have been joking that I want to bring one back with me.

They are very friendly monkey like animals which feed on insects and small animals. They are not afraid of humans and will climb on you and let you hold them. They are very friendly and I keep thinking they would be a cute pet but I have been assured they will not let you take them :-).

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American Airlines, Bring Back Food and Forget Missile Defense

At a time when U.S. Carriers are charging for bags, food, drinks, seats, exit rows, smiles, oxygen and everything else under the sun, American Airlines think this is the perfect time to add a million dollar per plane missile defense system.

I am guessing the weight of the missile defense system, which would protect planes from shoulder mounted guided missiles, which are a constant threat to planes landing in Jackson Hole Wyoming, weigh less then the video entertainment system they are jerking out of every plane to save on fuel. Instead airlines are issuing shadow puppets to the flight attendants for entertainment because you definitely don't have movies anymore....and the question is, you think this is the right time to add missile defense systems to airplanes???

U.S. carriers can't pass an FAA inspection these days, so I don't think that terrorist are going to have to bother shooting any of the planes down because a couple of more months of $4 a gallon fuel they are all just going to fall out of the sky anyhow. But for reasons passing understanding, the government is giving BAE, a defense contractor, about $29 million dollars to develop this retarded system. Lets see what else could be bought for $29 million dollars that would actually help airline passengers, because right now on a couple of flights I have been on, being shot down would be a better option then spending another hour on the runway at LaGuardia waiting to take off:

- 69 million bags of peanuts

- 5.5 million cokes for passengers

- 467 new baggage screeners at the airport

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Courtyard Seattle Bellevue Review

I recently stayed at the Courtyard in Bellevue for 1 night on business in a king room.

The hotel grounds is standard Courtyard and very well maintained. Check in was very efficient and the front desk staff were wonderful, it always makes a difference to have someone cheerful who enjoys what they do at the front desk and this hotel has wonderful staff.

The rooms surprised me, it has been a long time since I stayed in a Courtyard hotel but the room was great. The bed was very comfortable and the room also had a fantastic desk and sofa. The TV was a flat screen plasma with lots of stations and everything was well maintained and comfortable. The room also had a patio or balcony depending on what floor you are on.

I am usually a frequent Hilton brand hotel person, but this Courtyard was very nice and I would have no problem returning to this hotel in the future.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Ugliest Hotel in the History of Mankind

Esquire magazine recently crowned the Ryugyong Hotel the most hideous hotel in the history of mankind, apparently before visiting Las Vegas, none the less it makes you feel better about the hotel you are staying in.

A picture doesn't lie -- the one-hundred-and-five-story Ryugyong Hotel is hideous, dominating the Pyongyang skyline like some twisted North Korean version of Cinderella's castle. Not that you would be able to tell from the official government photos of the North Korean capital -- the hotel is such an eyesore, the Communist regime routinely covers it up, airbrushing it to make it look like it's open -- or Photoshopping or cropping it out of pictures completely.

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn't the just the worst designed building in the world -- it's the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

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United Thanks Me and Then Closes Red Carpet Clubs

So today I receive an email from United thanking me for my loyalty to United and Red Carpet Clubs. As with any email I get from United, if they are thanking me for something it means they are taking something away so low and behold, there thank you was immediately following a list of clubs they are closing to buy more jet fuel. The appropriate title of these emails should be, "Bend Over Here it Comes Again"...I swear its like getting a call at 3 am from your drunk friend saying how much he appreciates you and could you bail him out of jail.

Dear Mr. Andrew,

Thank you for your loyalty to United and the Red Carpet Club.

I am writing to notify you that the United Red Carpet Club® at the following airports will be closing:
  • Atlanta International Airport

  • Baltimore/Washington International Airport

  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

  • Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport
With record-breaking fuel costs, we are continually working to better allocate our resources to provide the products and services that matter most to you. The decision to close the clubs was based on a number of factors including customer usage, operating cost and strategic alignment.

Actual timing of each club's closing is still being finalized but we are targeting having all four clubs closed by October 10th of this year.

As always, you will continue to enjoy lounge access to 34 Red Carpet Clubs worldwide and over 500 Star Alliance lounges, provided you have same-day international travel on any Star Alliance carrier.

United appreciates your continued support of the United Red Carpet Clubs.


Jerry Thomas
Jerry Thomas
Manager, Airport Lounge Programs
United Airlines

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

US Air Punishes Pilots for Adding Reserve Fuel on Planes

In today's USA Today, the US Airline Pilots Association took out a full page ad to advise people that US Air pilots were being punished for adding reserve fuel to their planes.

Apparently U.S. Air has ordered pilots to save on fuel by only putting enough fuel in the plane to reach their destination. Pilots, realizing that strange things such as tarmac delays, ground stops and air traffic control problems could happen during their flight, decided to put on some reserve fuel for 15 minutes of additional air time so their plane didn't go plunging into the east river on approach to New York's JFK airport.

We have all played that game in our car on a trip where we see how close to empty we can get the car before we stop at the gas station. U.S. Air is playing the same game not realizing there are more drastic consequences to a 757 running out of gas at 15,000 feet then your daddy's Ford Focus on I-75 South.

After reading the article, I find myself in the rare position of supporting the pilots union. I am all for letting pilots put as much gas as they need to get the plane to the airport. If U.S. Air wants to tack on a reserve fuel fee, knock yourself out, but for the love of everything holy quit punishing pilots.

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Passenger Mutiny on American Airlines

A holiday weekend flight from Miami to New York never got off the ground after the crew arrived more than an hour late and angry passengers intimidated them so much that they refused to work.

American Airlines Flight 1908 was scheduled to leave Sunday evening from Miami en route to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. But the flight crew arrived an hour and 15 minutes late, prompting impatient and irate passengers to boo — and worse, MyFOX New York reported.

One witness said some people used “harsh language” with the gate attendants and were “really kind of like being a mob about it. It was scary.”

When a few of the crewmembers refused to work because of the “hostile environment,” American tried to find replacements — but to no avail, according to MyFOX New York. The airline had to put everyone up in a hotel and fly them out Monday afternoon.

Adding insult to injury? Flight 1908’s passengers flew into LaGuardia, but their bags arrived at JFK.

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I Rated My Life Today

Hey All,

I just got back home after a long week of travel and it's not quite over yet. Anyhow I was sitting at home with my wife and I took the "rate my life quiz" and while I don't buy into allot of these it was kind of fun to take. So here is mine

This Is My Life, Rated
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

If you want to take yours click the link

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Hilton Boston Back Bay

I am back in Boston Mass staying at my favorite hotel here, the Hilton Back Bay. They have renovated the rooms since the last time I was here and it's even nicer. This trip they put me in a balcony room on the 20th floor so I can step out and see the entire city.

The carpet, furniture, bed and tv are all new. It looks really nice and there is high def plasma TV now. The lobby now has Starbucks which is wonderful in the morning when I am looking for my fix.

The beds in the room are the best part, well that and the A/C works really really good and it gets really cold so I sleep well. The other best part is the water pressure which is like a fire hose when you turn on the shower which I love.

The hotel is perfectly located, next to the convention center and all the shops and restaurants in the Back Bay area of Boston. I can see Fenway Park from my balcony where the Red Sox play baseball which is really cool. If you are looking for a place to stay when you are in Boston you can't go wrong with the Hilton, its a great place.

I am here for three days after spending the last week pretty much doing nothing but flying here and there, from London England to Durham North Carolina to here and then on to Seattle later on in the week.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Doubletree Guest Suites Raleigh/Durham

I recently stayed at the Doubletree Guest Suites in Durham NC for two nights over the weekend for pleasure. My wife and I were attending my sisters wedding and choose this hotel close to Chapel Hill.

The hotel is fantastic. Each room is a suite and the rooms are quite large. They are clean and well maintained with everything that you are looking for including good A.C., a great bed, well functioning Wifi Internet.

The living room has a sofa, chair, desk and counter for the coffee machine and microwave along with a TV (no plasma's here). The bedroom which is separated from the living room has the bed and a dressing area which is nice connecting to the bathroom. My room also had a very large balcony overlooking the pool and lake.

The pool is fantastic and the hotel also has a hot tub, hot sauna and tennis courts. I really enjoyed the chaises by the pool which are new and have great cushions on them.

I would definitely return to this hotel if I am ever in the area again. It had a great price, great property and great rooms.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Top 10 Ways to Avoid Being a Jerk on an Airplane

On a recent flight from London which was 7 hours long, I was having a discussion with my seatmate of all the things about our fellow airline passengers which we hated. We thought it was a nice break to talk about passenger behavior instead of the airline staff behavior, that will be for the next top 10 list.

We put together a list of the top 10 ways you can avoid being a jerk on an airplane or the airport:

10. Have your stuff together by the time you get to the ticket counter. It is amazing how people can wait in line for two hours and when they get to the ticket counter they have to spend 30 minutes getting everything together to check in.

9. Watch your own kids! The only people who find your kids cute at the airport is you, the rest of us are just tired.

8. When your on your cell phone, talk low and away from everyone. There is nothing more irritating then standing at the gate in front of some Donald Trump wanna be who thinks he is in his living room, yelling on his phone via your ear.

7. Don't stand at the gate an hour before the plane takes off. The airline has gone through the trouble to assign zones to everyone. Standing at the gate hours before boarding makes you look like an idiot. Also, the boarding process isn't rocket science, if your in zone 3 and they are boarding zone 1, get your ass out of line.

6. Don't recline your seat in economy unless your actually sleeping: There is about two inches between the back of your seat the and the passenger sitting behind you. Reclining your seat puts your big head in the lap of the guy behind you. Unless you have to sleep, stop acting like a movie star and keep your seat up.

5. Eat your smelly, stinky hot food before you get on the plane: If you absolutely have to buy a hot pizza with anchovies, peperoni and salami, for the love of god eat it before you get on the plane. It's only a three hour flight, you don't have to bring a buffet with you the plane smells bad enough without it.

4. Unbuckling your seat belt and getting into some jokey position at the edge of your seat before the plane gets to the gate so you can be the first to stand up makes you look like an idiot also. I swear, the 2.1 seconds you are going to save by looking like a giant grasshopper before the plane stops isn't worth the silly way it makes you look.

3. Wait until the people around you start to leave before you take your bag out of the bin. I don't understand why people feel like the have to concuss the people around them by trying to take their bag out of the bin while people are crowded in the aisle. Take a deep breath and just wait a few minutes.

2. Let people in the row in front of you out before you go. There is nothing more obnoxious then not letting your fellow passengers out of their aisle before you exit the plane.

1. Most importantly, remember this, YOUR NOT SPECIAL. On every trip to the airport you will run into someone who thinks by virtue of their status, ranking or own imagination thinks they are more special then everyone else on the plane. I don't care if your triple platinum, CEO of some fortune 500 company and you get messages from god, you are not any more special then anyone else in the airport, you just think you are. Before you start thinking your special realize that until you have your own plane in your own airport, you are just another garden variety victim of the airline industry like the rest of your fellow passengers

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hilton London Heathrow Airport

I recently stayed at the Hilton Heathrow Airport hotel for 1 night on business before I flew back to the U.S.

This hotel was a very nice way to end my trip, I wish that the hotel I was staying at near my work in Cambridge had been as nice as this hotel, I wouldn't have been in such a rush to get back.

The service is evident from the minute you pull up to the hotel. There is staff everywhere to help you, take your bag, check you in and have you on the way to your room in no time. There almost seems like more staff then guests at times and they are all very friendly.

I stayed in a Queen room that was upgraded to the executive level for being a HHonors Diamond member. That was very welcome as many hotels I stay at don't seem to recognize your hotel level.

The room is fantastic, and even being next to the airport you don't hear anything. The beds are fantastic and the rooms are very modern with a plasma TV and an awesome bathroom with an open rain shower area. The room provided many amenities such as a robe and slippers, free water and coffee service along with all the standards you expect at Hilton.

I ate at the restaurant and the service and food was fantastic and very reasonable for a hotel restaurant. The hotel has a fitness facility which I didn't get to check out but looked quite nice with a pool and good equipment.

This is one of the better airport hotels I have ever stayed at and would easily stay here again. Fantastic hotel with great service.

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Delta dismissed from fatal 2006 crash lawsuits

A federal judge in Lexington Ky has ruled that Delta had no control over the operations or personnel involved in the fatal Comair crash where pilots for that airline decided that a taxiway looked just like a runway.

"Delta has no right to fire or otherwise discipline Comair pilots for violating Comair's polices or procedures and/or aviation regulations," the judge wrote.

"In short, there is no allegation that any Delta employee failed to exercise reasonable care in the performance of his/her duty in any manner in respect to Flight No. 5191," Forester wrote.

Due to the decision, Delta Airline decided that passengers on Comair Flight 5191 would only receive 2 Skymiles for their flight, reflecting the actual miles flown for the flight. Additionally, Delta is still not sure where the baggage or the claims for damage luggage are but will look into the matter as soon as gas prices go down and they can actually hire baggage reps again.

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21% of All Airline Flights in the U.S. Delayed in May 08

It should come as no shock to anyone, even though it is actually an improvement, but 21% of all flights in the U.S. for May 2008 were delayed.

U.S. airlines' performance continues to improve this year, as the rate of on-time flights in May was higher than both last month and May 2007, according to government data released Monday.

The rates of flight cancellations and mishandled baggage also declined compared to the same periods, says the monthly Air Travel Consumer Report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The 19 largest carriers recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 79% in May, compared to May 2007's 77.9% and April 2008's 77.7%.

The cancellation rate also improved slightly in May, with 1% of scheduled domestic flights canceled vs. 1.1% in May 2007 and 1.7% in April 2008.

Here is another shocker for everyone, can you guess who the worst airlines were for May???

Worst performing airlines. American (67.3%), United (72.4), and Continental (75.4%) were the worst performing airlines for on-time arrivals. Among large airlines, American had the highest rate of cancellations, with 2.1%.

Some other stats for May 2008 from the USDOT:

Worst flight. Southwest Airlines flight 2709 from Houston to San Diego was late 100% of the time, making it the most consistently late flight in May.

Better baggage handling. The carriers' mishandled baggage rate of 4.59 reports per 1,000 passengers in May was an improvement over both May 2007's rate of 5.94 and April's 4.99.

Fewer complaints. In May, the DOT received 885 complaints about airline service from consumers, down from 930 in May 2007 and 1,113 in April.

Best and worst airports. Salt Lake City, Baltimore-Washington and Chicago Midway were the three highest ranked airports, respectively, for on-time performance. Newark, New York LaGuardia and Dallas-Fort Worth were the worst.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Doubletree by Hilton Cambridge, England

I recently stayed at the Doubletree Cambridge for three nights on business.

From a traveling perspective, I don't consider hotels in the UK as foreign hotels and expect the standards of branded hotels such as Doubletree to be the same in the U.S. as they are in the U.K. as opposed to traveling in other countries where I am willing to cut them some slack.

The Doubletree doesn't live up to expectations of a Doubletree. Problems started at check in where rooms were not ready until late, having to wait several hours to check in. This hotel does not recognize Hilton Honors levels, being a Diamond, no special courtesy was extended at all despite what Hilton claims you receive as amenities at their hotels based on your level.

The rooms are function although a bit small. The business services in the hotel such as WiFi is troublesome, so working in your room on the internet is difficult. Even though it is the U.K. I think that can dig up more then 5 TV stations. The lobby area and bar, along with being overprices, is often messy and service is spotty at best. The beds are not Doubletree beds by any stretch of the imagination. Otherwise the rooms are fine.

The fitness center apparently is open to the community as well hotel guests meaning you will never be able to find any equipment open. I visited several times and could never get in, which makes you wonder why they do it. If you are expecting a fitness center you will also be disappointed.

Overall it was a below standard stay, I definitely wouldnt return. There is nothing that stands out at this hotel that I could actually recommend.

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Air Tran to Cut 180 Pilots and 300 Flight Attendants

In yet another round of replace flight crews with gasoline, Air Tran announced today that were laying off 480 staff members or roughly 4,500 gallons of gas. This is the latest round of layoffs in the airline industry and U.S. air carriers try and figure out how to convert flight crews into jet fuel.

Discount carrier AirTran Airways is cutting 480 jobs, or more than 5% of its work force, amid difficult financial times due largely to soaring fuel prices, a company executive said Monday.

The Orlando-based airline told employees that 180 pilot jobs and 300 flight attendant jobs will be eliminated effective Sept. 6, according to Kevin Healy, senior vice president of marketing and planning for AirTran Holdings Inc. Flights also will be reduced in September, Healy said.

AirTran is offering an early out voluntary program for employees with at least five years of service. Eligible employees who are accepted for the program will receive six to 12 months of medical benefits and six to 12 months of flight privileges, Healy said.

AirTran has about 8,900 employees, including 1,450 pilots and 2,000 flight attendants

The airline went on to say that with the weight savings from not having anyone onboard to fly the plane, the company will save thousands over the next 23 years.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

To My Fellow Bloghoppers

Hey Everyone who has hopped my blog the past two days,

I promise as soon as I can I will hop you back. I am in England right now and the internet has trouble connecting to blogs for reasons passing understanding. Dont forget about me and I promise I will make it up to everyone once I get a chance!


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Inspirational Poster of the Day - Blastphemy

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Things to Think About Today

My theory of evolution is that Darwin was adopted. -- Steven Wright

I spilled spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone. -- Steven Wright

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.
-- Steven Wright

I have two very rare photographs.
One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car.
The other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child.
-- Steven Wright

I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards.
I got a full house and four people died.
-- Steven Wright

A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths.
-- Steven Wright

I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
-- Steven Wright

Smoking cures weight problems...eventually... -- Steven Wright

The sign said "eight items or less". So I changed my name to Les.
-- Steven Wright

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the
ocean would be if that didn't happen. -- Steven Wright

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First Class Passenger Throws Tantrum, Exits Off Emergency Chute

A first-class passenger on a Delta flight apparently became so angry that coach-class passengers were able to exit his jet before he could that "he yanked open an emergency hatch and slid down the chute," The Associated Press reports.

The incident happened in the South American country of Guyana, where local police said the man –- identified as a Guyanese citizen –- appeared to be intoxicated after arriving on Delta's flight from New York. The incident, confirmed yesterday by Guyanese authorities, occurred Friday. Delta spokesman Junior Horatio tells AP that the carrier plans to press charges against the man for interfering with flight crew members.

In response to the incident, Delta Airline immediate started charging First Class Passengers who want to exit before coach class passengers $25. A Delta spokesman said, with every new incident comes an idea for a new fee.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Where is Andrew This Week

Hello All,

This week I am off across the pond in Cambridge England to visit our office here. I am staying at the Doubletree Hotel in Cambridge which is right on the river Cam and has a really nice view. After finally getting the WiFi to work I am settling in to the hotel and have explored the city a little bit.

The flight was 7 hours and not to bad really, at first I was a little nervous because I had a rather large seatmate but he was very courteous and we got along fine. Other then being really jet lagged everything on the flight worked well.

I will be here until Thursday this week when I get to fly back home to my family and then turn around and head to Chapel Hill North Carolina for my cousins wedding, but at least that is a family trip so I am looking forward to it.

After we get done in Chapel Hill I am flying off to Boston Mass for next week and a convention in that city but we will cover that in the next episode of Where is Andrew.

Everyone be patient, I am going to respond to hops this week as I can, the Internet at the hotel isn't exactly state of the art but don't worry I haven't forgot about you. Hope everyone has a great week.

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Inspirational Poster of the Day - Rock Bottom

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