Author Archive

To shut off or not to shut off, that is the question…

As a follow-up to our last post, looks like the FAA is going to take the lead on updating the rules with respect to the use of electronic devices in-flight.

Being as thorough as they are, they plan to bring together manufacturers, consumer electronic associations, aircraft and avionic manufacturers, airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers, but, and this is a BIG but, they have yet to secure funding for the project. 

CarryingOn therefore expects we’ll get a definitive ruling at some point in 2018, or a full year after Mariano Rivera is enshrined unanimously on the first ballot to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Actually, I’m thinking Mo will be introducing Derek Jeter to the Hall in 2019 before you’ll know for sure if you can turn on your iPad and watch the induction ceremony from 35,000 feet.

March 21, 2012 at 7:09 am 5 comments

So what should we make of this………………

I read an interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about the growing trend of in-flight incidents involving people not shutting off their electronic devices.   There were quite a few nuggets of information in the article including:

- most passenger misconduct cases now deal with non compliance of electronic devices (no surprises there),

-there’s no firm scientific data that having a device on will cause an issue, just that there is the potential for it to cause an issue (again not surprising),

-In a study published in 2006, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University who rode 37 airline flights with a radio-frequency measuring device found emissions from cell phones that could interfere with global-positioning satellite systems (mildly interesting, and while I’m sure the Carnegie Mellon guys are smart, there’s still nothing too urgent about this factoid),

-Crews have anecdotally reported numerous issues linked to computers or devices on board, such as erroneous warnings on collision-avoidance systems, heavy static on radio frequencies and false readings on instrument landing systems, according to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ok you now have my attention, but seeing the word anecdotal probably means I’m still not that worried about some guy sneaking in a few more emails after takeoff),

-RTCA Inc., the non-profit which advises the FAA on technical issues, said in a lengthy study in 2008 that emissions from transmitting personal electronic devices, or T-PEDS, could interfere with critical aircraft systems (the evidence seems to be mounting),

-In some instances where crews caught passengers talking on a phone or using a computer, they were able to end interference by shutting down the device.  Turning it back on recreated the problem, suggesting a possible link (ok now I’m really paying attention, and by the way isn’t Nasa going away soon, and if so, who will check this stuff going forward?).

Given this compilation of information, CarryingOn has a couple of recommendation for its followers.   First, let’s all shut our devices off when asked, period.    Unless you’re giving someone instructions on how to disarm a nuclear weapon about to detonate, that phone call or email can probably wait don’t you think?   Second, if you see somebody who’s not in compliance feel free to educate them about the dangers of their playing another round of “Words with Friends”, or posting those photos of themselves eating a burrito in the airport on Facebook.   Perhaps something along the lines of “hey chief (or sister, if the offender is a woman), you know there’s data that shows that having that on can interfere with the collision-avoidance systems, so why don’t you do us all a favor and shut it down.   Otherwise, I’ll ring my call button and you know how that will turn out.”

If they give you the dirty look and shut it down, it’s all good.   You probably didn’t want to talk with anyone who just had an airport burrito anyway :-).

March 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm 5 comments

The Beginning of the End of Managed Travel or Just Another Bump in the Road

by Tony

In case you haven’t seen it, I wrote an op-ed piece for Procurement.travel that might be of interest.  As the title suggests, there seems to be a lot of things going on that could re-shape managed travel, so I figured I would put pen to paper and capture some of them for posterity (truth be told, I didn’t actually pick up a pen and write anything on paper, but you know what I mean, and I think it sounds better than saying I typed something into my computer).

Enjoy, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

March 12, 2012 at 7:46 am Leave a comment

You have to love the TSA……

by Tony

……if for nothing else but the pure entertainment value they provide on what seems like a weekly basis.

Last week they were forced to defend the actions of a Las Vegas TSA crew that confiscated some cupcakes.

In their defense on the TSA Blog (who knew there was such a thing but I guess if I can have a blog why not the TSA), Blogger Bob (again I’m not making that up, he’s a real guy that is part of the TSA Blogger Team), defended the cupcake confiscation citing the 3-1-1 rule that limits the amount of liquids, gels or aerosols you can bring on a plane.

Ok, I felt Blogger Bob’s explanation stretched things a bit, and despite agreeing with the passenger in this case, who suggested the TSA used “terrible logic”, I guess a rule is a rule, and I was all set to let this TSA incident slide without comment.   That was until I read that the TSA had issued an apology for strip searching a couple of granny’s at JFK.

In these cases all logic went right out the window when on separate occasions TSA agents at JFK asked two 85+ year old women to strip because they saw something unusual (turned out to be a defibrillator and a colostomy bag).  Ok, now picture yourself as the TSA agent involved in the colostomy incident.   Do you really think that agent is checking the next 88 year old woman after witnessing the first colostomy bag?  CarryingOn says “NO WAY”!  That woman is clearing the security area faster than you can say “get her out of here before anything starts leaking”.

CarryingOn thinks these stories taken together illustrate the problem with the current TSA procedures.  Going forward, what prevents the 88 year old woman from taking explosive fluids in her colostomy bag, or a coordinated team of cupcake makers from taking only a portion of the needed ingredients thereby circumventing the 3-1-1 rule, and then coalescing while onboard to create an explosive from what appeared to be the ingredients of my all-time favorite cupcake, the Yankee Doodle?

Nothing, I would argue, other than the fact that an 88 year old women and the unassuming cupcake baker have no reason to.   No one who fits their profile ever has, and nothing about them would suggest they are getting on that plane for any other reason than to get from point A to point B.    Yet the TSA continues to confiscate stuff and breach personal barriers because of some rules intended to make us feel safer.  Sounds kind of silly if you ask me, and it doesn’t make me feel any safer.   How about you?   Are you feeling safer?  If not, go get yourself a Yankee Doodle and a glass of milk.   You might not feel safer, but I guarantee you’ll at least feel better :).

January 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm 5 comments

Tony D is Carrying On

by Tony

After a 7+year run, I’ve decided to leave Rearden Commerce effective at year’s end.

It’s been a great ride….one that saw us grow from not even having a Travel application or a distributor of any kind, and when we could fit all our customers into my 1978 Cadillac, to where we stand today….over 7,000 customers, 50+ Travel Management Company Partners, processing over 14 Million transactions annually, and being a recognized, well respected brand, and leader in the space.

I was blessed to have the help of a fabulous team of co-workers, along with the support of our partners, customers, and my many industry contacts and friends, and I sincerely thank you all for helping with my success.

Never fear, CarryingOn will continue to carry on with me at the helm, backed by occasional guest bloggers—including some of those you’ve come to know and love on this blog. You might also start to hear from the Carrying On bloggers on Rearden Commerce’s Deem Blog. I want to thank my partner in almost crime Mike D, and the Rearden Marketing folks behind the scene: Brent Cohler, Alicia diVittorio, Yoni Meron, and Allison Jeannotte, for helping get it started and for giving me the inspiration to post on a regularly basis (some would call what Allison does nagging, but it’s all good and without her you might not see another post for months :) ).

I’ll be taking a short break primarily to get my bowling game back in order, but will also be looking for my next opportunity and challenge, so I’m sure I’ll see you all out there very shortly.

Until then, I wish you all the best.

Happy Holidays,

Tony D

December 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm 12 comments

Things are not always as they seem…

by Tony

I read with interest a recent article suggesting that the European Union was about to start making foreign airlines pay for their carbon emissions. The program has been widely criticized by many including the Air Transport Association, and the International Air Transport Association, which represents 230 airline across the globe, for many reasons as you will read in the piece.

Now putting the scientific discussion of the impact of carbon emissions aside for a moment, I don’t think anyone would disagree that air transportation is a significant driver of the world’s economy, and beyond the economic impact, has changed the world for the better. But for as much good as it does, air transportation is one of the most heavily regulated and taxed industries, and this new regulation is yet another example. EU officials admit as much and recognize that this program will ultimately cost consumers more (as much as $16US per long-haul flight, according to The New York Times), but they simply suggest the airline pass the cost of their emissions off on passengers, as they do with fuel price increases.

Now anytime CarryingOn hears the word “price increase” we get concerned, but the whole carbon emissions issue really came home for me this past week.

I was flying to MSP on Delta 2119, an 810am departure from LGA. The flight was full, the boarding typical for New York, with lots of crowding and a few “we haven’t called your group yet” boarding infractions, but was otherwise routine. Having logged a few miles in my day, I’m usually not that interested when the various in-flight announcement are made, not because they aren’t important, rather because I know most of them by heart, but on this particular day they caught my attention. Our MD88 aircraft was piloted by Captain William J. Botella, who during his normal announcements also made some very interesting comments that made me think of the EU carbon emission story I had read a few days earlier.

What Captain Botella said was the following:

The MD88 with 130 passengers, would use 2,730 gallons of fuel over the 1,200 mile trip between LGA and MSP.

By contrast, to carry 130 passengers in automobiles (assuming 2 per car, and a 20 Miles Per Gallon vehicle), would consume 3,900 gallons of fuel.

So by flying, we saved 1,170 gallons of fuel, not to mention that we all got there in 2½ hours versus the 20 hours it would have taken had we driven non-stop at 60 MPH (and that doesn’t include a few Waffle Houses stops we would inevitably make along the way).  And the good Captain didn’t even talk about any cargo that might have been onboard, cargo that otherwise would have been on trucks that burn even more fuel.

His comments got me thinking that maybe this air transportation thing isn’t so bad for carbon emissions after all, particularly when you look at it as Captain Botella suggested. Sure, you can take the position that any carbon emission is bad (and again science aside), but does anybody really think we can stop emissions altogether? The answer is no, but in this case maybe there is a different perspective we should take.  One that considers the alternative, because I don’t know about you but one thing I don’t think we need is another tax on our industry, so I’ll close by quoting the old Beatle classic Taxman, which if you don’t remember went like this:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

… and will add my own new verse to help shed some light on this one as only CarryingOn can.

If you fly today, I’ll tax the ride.

If you will not pay, you’ll have to drive.

If you drive your car, the fumes will flow,

Even more than if you flew you know.

Feel free to sing along, and maybe we all karaoke it with our favorite Congressman.

December 19, 2011 at 11:52 am Leave a comment

The Old Dog Saw a Cool New Trick

by Tony

I think most of our followers know I’ve been around for a while, but what you might not know is that I started my career in Travel over 32 years ago as a Reservation Sales Representative with United Airlines at a center they had in Rockleigh, NJ (at the whopping starting salary of $6.02 per hour :)). I made it through a grueling six week training class and graduated after demonstrating my competency in quickly recalling and using the hundreds of rudimentary Apollo CRS formats I learned that allowed me to find United’s flights, sell hotels and rental cars, and generally service UA’s customers.

I recall many things from that time, such as Marketing messages like, “fly to ‘our little corner of the world’, aka Hawaii”, or “First to 50” (UA was the first and only airline to fly to all 50 states at the time). I also learned my city codes, codes I have never forgotten 32 years later. Some of those codes made perfect sense and were easy like JFK (John F Kennedy Airport in NY), but others made no sense at all and required some little tricks to help recall them, such as New Orleans, where MSY makes perfect sense only when you consider how “messy” it gets after Mardi Gras :).

So why am I taking this walk down memory lane you ask? Well, curious guy that I am, I joined a webcast recently held by Travelport where they showed their new Smart Point technology. Promoted as being able, among other things, to have the ability to translate cryptic GDS commands across systems, it dawned on me that all the time I spent painstakingly learning all those format years ago is no longer necessary. As usual it got me thinking, in this case about how much easier the world is these days based on technology innovation, because it’s pretty easy to see how a TMC will benefit from this particularly when it comes to training their staff.

So kudos to Travelport because what I saw was pretty slick (and to be fair to my other GDS friends, I’m told they have developed similar stuff).   Another example of technology innovation that makes life easier for someone, even for an old dog like me, just in case I want to put my headset back on and take a few res calls for old times’ sake.

December 9, 2011 at 8:18 am Leave a comment

Gartner Predicts Continued Consumerization of IT … CarryingOn Asks “What took them so long?”

by Tony

Research organization Gartner, Inc. made some very interesting predictions relative to IT for 2012 and beyond. Check out the complete list of prophecies here. But what struck a chord with me was the overall tone of the report — which suggested the continuing influence of the consumer/end user, and the power that impact will have on influencing IT Managers. This pull-out gives you the gist:

The continued trends toward consumerization and cloud computing highlight the movement of certain former IT responsibilities into the hands of others … As users take more control of the devices they will use, business managers are taking more control of the budgets IT organizations have watched shift over the last few years. As the world of IT moves forward, CIOs are finding that they must coordinate their activities in a much wider scope than they once controlled. While this might be a difficult prospect for IT departments, they must now adapt or be swept aside.”

CarryingOn has talked about this trend towards consumerization in business travel in the past, and if we extrapolate some of the predictions Gartner is making, it sounds like the days of corporate mandates could be ending. Ponder for a minute: just a couple years ago, would you have envisioned your company not only supporting multiple operating systems, but allowing employees to select which devices and applications they use at work, or to store their data in “the cloud”? (Your 2009 self would likely be confused by the “cloud” and you would also have no idea the impact that Apple would soon have on your life.) It used to be: you started at a company and they provisioned you a desktop or PC, in some cases a smart phone, and in just about 100% of the cases, provided you access to the company’s “network,” a highly guarded environment that was vetted by security, sourced by procurement, maintained by operations, and used by 100% of the employees. Today, it’s becoming an entirely different ballgame.

The New York Times recently reported on the consumerization of IT: “[Corporate IT departments] are now in retreat. Employees are bringing in the technology they use at home and demanding the IT department accommodate them. The IT department often complies.” The Times reports that Forrester Research found that 48 percent of information workers buy smartphones for work “without considering what their IT department supports.” Apparently, flexibility = productivity. So, let’s extrapolate these trends to travel.

The fact is, the Managed Travel program has always been “challenged” by the end user. In the good old days before the web, it was fairly common to hear an employee say (and many times that employee was a “C”-Level type), that they had a friend “in the business”, aka, a local Travel Agent that they had dealt with for years, and they often avoided the company mandated TMC. Today, it’s “I found a better deal on the web,” but the point is that when it came to Travel, there has always seemed to be more of a willingness to challenge the company program in some way.

Today, technology innovation has created a more informed and demanding end user whose experience in their personal life shapes their expectations at work. They proudly suggest they can find something better, because they feel only they know what they want, need, like, or all of the above. And, on some levels, they are probably right. We’ve heard of entire Travel programs where the end user is given great latitude in making decisions, and in general there seems to be a trend towards accommodation that cannot be ignored.

The trends all point to a need to re-think some of the basics of your program to ensure the decisions you are making, especially those related to the technology you put in a users hands (think online tool and mobile travel application), need to be informed by what the end user thinks is best for them. Ignore the trend and face the potential wrath of a more informed and empowered employee. Remember, Business Travel is not their end game; it’s a means to a greater end. How they do it matters. How you build your program to accommodate for that matters as well.

December 5, 2011 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Is it me or does this plane smell like french fries?

by Tony

I’m not sure if you caught the CNN article, but a number of airlines are checking out alternative fuel sources such as algae and cooking oil — and it struck me as intriguing. I’m all for anything that can reduce the general dependency on oil, given the dramatic impact it has on the Travel industry, but it sounds like we have a ways to go here before we should start getting too excited. The cost for alternative fuel sources is still somewhat prohibitive, but what CNN identifies as just as challenging is that there is no “supply chain” for these alternative fuel sources. So even if the industry can figure out how to get all the kinks out, they’ll still have a pretty big hurdle: there is no efficient way to get the product from producer to consumer.

That got me to thinking about a topic I’ve blogged about in the past, namely the concept of a T&E Supply Chain. In case you don’t want to hit the link and read the post, according to Wikipedia a supply chain is “a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” Think about yours, and when you consider game-changers like fragmenting content, new sources of distribution and payment (think Mobile), and new players and processes (think Daily Offers, Gamification, and Social Networking), ask the question “What will our new T&E Supply Chain look like in a year or two?” Which of these new processes or platforms are most likely to stick and become part of the new Travel Program? Which will attract users, and which will become distractions that fall by the wayside? Attraction or Distraction? That is the question, when thinking about your new T&E Supply Chain.

Alaska Air is now testing alternative fuels, running test flights powered by cooking oil, which the airline claims is reducing CO2 emissions by 10 percent. Meanwhile, that fuel costs six times as much as conventional jet fuel. (It simply is not cheap to filter the fried bits out of cooking oil before reclaiming it to power a jet.) I see the attraction of trying to reduce carbon emissions from a corporate social responsibility perspective, but I fall down on the side of distraction on this one due to supply chain issues … because the idea of running a plane on fryolator grease is worthless until McDonald’s makes their drive thrus big enough to accommodate a 757. So the next time you are considering the latest and greatest idea, ask yourself – attraction or distraction?

November 28, 2011 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

Rest in Peace, Champ

by Tony

I was saddened to hear of the passing this week of one my all time favorite athletes, Joe Frazier.  “Smokin” Joe was a man’s man who never backed down or stopped moving forward, and that despite getting knocked down more than once, always managed to get up and fight on. His work ethic was legendary and he told it like it was, and while I never had the pleasure of meeting him, he definitely left a lasting impression on me. Prepare yourself as best you can, always give your best effort, never quit, and always conduct yourself like a professional.   Rest In Peace, Champ.

November 11, 2011 at 6:31 am 1 comment

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