Monday, April 19, 2010

And now a real-time blog, my travel day. No biz class jackpot today

I don’t think I will ever travel on a Sunday again. Maybe it was the volcano routing all the lost people around the other side of the world. Maybe the economy has picked up and people are traveling again. Maybe the Dow going over 11,000 has put the Road Warriors back into business. I don’t know. What I can say is that this was a day in the madhouse starting with kissing My Lovely Wife goodbye and going into the Albuquerque Sunport at 5:50 AM. A narrative would be pointless and while I hate self-indulgent ranting blogs, today I am going to go with the irony and write one myself. Here are the highlights:

  • Sometimes when I stand in the status line at the ticket counter, a cheerful attendant calls me over and processes my boarding passes. Sometimes they ask me why I don’t just use the kiosk. Well, I don’t use the kiosk because according to regulations, they are required to check my visa. So if they’re going to have to do that, why do I bother with the kiosk? It saves them the work of checking me in apparently. Today I got the kiosk loving agent and after 15 minutes of trying to figure out how to do my seat upgrade, she finally gave in and did it herself.
  • They have created a special status line at the first security check; you know the one where they verify your ID and boarding pass. What it allows you to do it to cut ahead of the 4 or 5 people waiting to have their ID checked. I used it, but I couldn’t figure out why I bothered.
  • Standing in line I had a chat with the guy behind me. He and two co-workers were on their way to Moscow. Problem was, that volcano was preventing planes from flying west to east. So he and his friends were going to Moscow from Albuquerque by way of Tokyo. I guess he really wanted to get there.
  • I had hopes of a business upgrade for the Beijing leg but they were dashed when the dreadlocked gate attendant at SFO told me that there was one seat left and that I was not at the top of the list. 90 seconds later, they call my name along with 3 others and so I went up to the podium where they told me to “hang around” because there is still a chance of being upgraded. Now does “hang around” mean I should not board? Well if I don’t board there won’t be any overhead bin space. So I take my chances and get in line. 45 seconds after that they call two of the four and those people get upgraded. I resign myself to flying with the regular folk. As we’re sitting there waiting to leave, they come and pull the guy two rows ahead of me and take him up to business. It seems I was #4.
  • I watched 6 full length television shows and it only brought my iPad down to 85% reserve power. My fancy new Sennheiser earphones on the other hand did not last the whole trip. They started warning me that they were getting low with three annoying beeps about every 45 seconds.
  • Immigration in Beijing was a Sea of Humanity. I don’t know if they were not expecting 5 jumbo jets at the same time or if the volcano really is routing people this way around. Whatever it is, I’ve never seen anything like this. Literally so many people that the ends of the lines devolved into a giant mob. I got lucky and walked up just as they converted a Chinese Nationals line to a mixed race queue. It only took me 35 minutes; I imagine some of those people will be there tomorrow.
  • A little man stood by me at the doors for the inter-terminal train. I could tell he was planning to vector himself across in front of me to grab one of the 4 seats at the front of the car. I resolved to not let this happen; people should not mess with me after 12 hours in Economy Plus seating. The doors opened, I shot straight ahead, cut him off and forced him into the seat across from me.
  • The Air China Lounge gals wouldn’t let me into the first class side. I still can’t figure out how Aidan and I got shuffled there when we were here.
  • The Lounge has replaced real Kit Kats with imitation Nestles Kit Kats. They’re not bad, but they’re not the same.

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