Tuesday, February 28

low man on the totem pole

The DFW-SJC flight last night was mostly uneventful. It's the first time I've flown on business in about 2 years; at one time I was spending a week in California every month, so yes .. this is a novelty, although I did "practice" a trip to the same DFW Terminal D earlier in the day (to fetch Jill-Bob).

Most of American's flights on this route are MD-88s, which have about 30 rows of 5-across seating, and I heard the Flight Attendants [FA] saying that nearly every flight except Saturdays are full lately. This was no exception. I don't know if anyone was denied boarding (I wasn't in the gate area long enough to hear them say it was oversold, looking for volunteers for the next flight). Once we pushed back from the gate, the FA instructed us to turn off "anything with an on/off switch" which was better than the long list of stuff they used to read .. while I hoped they missed one/more of my omnipresent gadgets.

The worst thing about the Travel Gap is that I'm back to "Square One" in the Frequent-This and Frequent-That programs (airline, car rental, hotel, parking). This means I now must sit in the back of the bus (seat 28F on the outbound and 26F on the return) with the rest of the rifraff, and can't even qualify to use the upgrades I bought years ago, until I reach a minimum of Aadvantage Gold (unlikely anytime soon).

Some good things have happened since I last flew frequently: American Airlines' Rapid Check-In machines are a welcome departure from dealing with a Human ticket agent (which seldom speaks English). The machine which scans boarding passes at the gate have finally become fast (I used to groan whenever a flight was assigned The Boarding Pass Machine .. meaning the boarding would take twice as long as those conducted by Humans).

First, there was the obligatory TSA scan (metal detection; X-ray of my rucksack, shoes, laptop). Once on the plane, I found myself sitting next to a female "terrorist" - the only woman on the plane wearing an hijab. I was prepared to stab her with my plastic butter knife if she made any wrong moves. I must get some better noise cancelling headphones .. the earbuds I have from Turtle Beach are effective, but didn't shut out the nearby malevolent Demon Child shreiking for an extended duration at a pitch slightly less annoying than fingernails on a chalkboard.

Due to the (HR-induced) delays in marking me as an Active employee, I didn't get in an early queue for hotels in TBA* so I ended up at a $60/night Zero Service Hotel .. no daily maid, no room service, no onsite dining (I defy you to find anything open other than Denny's after 10pm in TBA!) and .. (gasp!) .. no Ethernet (just a quaint analog modem plug). They did offer wireless networking for $4/stay, and the hotel had indoor plumbing. I avoided the room's phone: 75¢/minute for long distance (and $2.78/minute for international calls .. after the first $14.62 minute) struck me as an absurd ripoff. The Ford Fusion rental car -- in the rain -- wasn't awful .. it's just not like JAC (Just Another Car) here at home.
* The Bay Area

No comments: