“Where’s your other hand?”

February 26, 2010 at 8:34 am 3 comments

by Mike

“Between the pillows…”
“Those aren’t pillows!”

And with that Hollywood flashback from the 1987 classic, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, I am happy to kick off Carrying On’s first regular segment, aptly called “Those Aren’t Pillows!” (or TAP). Not that TD and I have ever had to share a bed, or will admit to doing so, but after years in the industry, we’ve certainly had our share of Neal and Del-esque travel moments. Many of our real-life travel experiences have been as painfully funny as those in the movie. For us, mishaps usually lead to learnings. In TAP, we hope to highlight some of the tips and tricks we’ve found to be quite effective in helping us hurdle those common travel obstacles.

TAP #1: Park your car and so much more

Am I the only one getting killed by airline mergers? Recently I saw my coveted status disintegrate before my eyes when the frequent flyer databases of two airlines were morphed into one. No joke, here. I was about to depart on a trip and my ranking on the upgrade list fell from a top three position to a double digits slot faster than Bode Miller crashed and burned in Torino. Adios went my access to gratis libations.

Worse than that, however, it has even become more difficult to secure a quality seat. Not that I don’t enjoy the camaraderie of getting up close and personal with a fellow traveler during a transcon flight, but every once in awhile a bit more space makes me more productive professionally. Wouldn’t you know it, on this flight I got seat 34B. The week before the trip I logged so many calls to the preferred reservation number that they were able to pull up my reservation via voice recognition. They didn’t even need my record locator. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to help with a new seat, and it looked like I’d soon have two new friends. My fate rested with those omnipotent gate agents who have the power not only to part seas but also to assign the exit row.

It was the morning of my flight, and the perfect storm arrived. With all the crazy weather, flight delays and cancellations, I knew it would be painful dealing with airport customer service personnel. I decided to take an alternative approach and went straight to Park ‘N Fly Plus. From my past travels, I knew they have an airline representative right at the parking lot, and even better, rarely was there a line. When traveling, I always select the option that allows me to kill two birds with one stone.

After parking my car, I sauntered up to the off-airport parking airline representative, and I asked for some love. He delivered (get your mind out of the gutter). He delivered the type of love that is second only to the golden upgrade, the silver medal of seats: an exit row aisle. Just like Bode Miller in Vancouver, I was the comeback kid!

TAP Learning: When traveling, look for ways to double your pleasure. Checking in for your flight as you park your car is the perfect example.

“Between the pillows…”

“Those aren’t pillows!”

Entry filed under: Business Travel, Mike's musings, TAP. Tags: , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Colin B  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Nice one Mike, pity we don’t have such a system on this side of the pond.


  • 2. Arjun  |  February 26, 2010 at 9:04 am

    You can use mobile checkin ( coming soon on rearden’s mobile assistant) to checkin on the go! And you can pick your seat 24hrs prior to departure!

  • 3. Dave Cooney  |  March 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

    If you’ll indulge me, Mike, I’ll share one of my more memorable “TAPs.” I was leading a fam trip for UA to Hawaii back in the 90s and we were scheduled on a late night flight back from OGG to SFO. Unfortunately there was a 2 hour mechanical delay that turned into a cancellation. Not very convenient and things were very tense on the subsequent bus ride back to the hotel at 0300 or so. It was “what a Mickey Mouse operation” this and “never flying UA again as long as I live” that but the customers were eventually able to calm me down and convince me that these things happen. Still, it was a few months before I was proud enough to wear my ramp jacket on sales calls again.


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