Traveling this past weekend: observations

Everybody who travels says is now and then:  "Travel sucks."

Well, this weekend, my experiences with United Airlines were above all, frustrating.  Not just the experience I had with them during my trip, but even more concerning was what I see as the future of travel as a result.

I flew this recent trip with my wife using my miles.  I have accumulated over 400,000 miles with United over the years.  Use 'em or lose ' we used 'em to fly to Newark, NJ this weekend for a friend's wedding.

I checked us in on-line and we were offered to pay for an upgrade to first class. I took it as it was a 6 AM MDT flight. Could use a few less hassles...maybe some sleep.  Done.

I attempted to do so on our return flight over the toll-free # and at the terminal.  In each case I was told that first class had seats, but I could not purchase a first-class ticket because my ticket was originally purchased with miles. Hear that...i could not "purchase" the upgrade, even if i wanted to give it to them, they were unwilling to take a loyal customer's (400k miles) money.  Frustrating,considering the whole purpose of miles is to reward loyalty, and then they immediately make that loyal customer a second class citizen throughout the process, simply because we used miles to purchase our ticket.  Broken.

Even better is what my wife and i observed on the three United planes that we flew on this weekend.

  1. Two of the planes had tape holding interior panels in place in the cabin
  2. There were intake vents for the cabin air system that were severely clogged with dust.
  3. the televisions on one flight were so bad that it was actually painful to watch anything: horrible color, lines blurring the picture, the broadcast went in and out.
  4. dirty seats. i cannot even describe it.
  5. Service:  forget it.  It is as though everyone at United has just accepted the fact that their service continues to suck more.  Isn't this company still employee-owned?
  6. Delays:  Two of the three flights were the classic, 'push-away-from-the door-and-sit-on-the-tarmac-for-an hour+-before-take-off' situations.
  7. Freezing cold...then hotter-than-hell air conditioning

I will leave the rest alone.  You get the point. 

The little things are being neglected and I fear for simple safety of flying in the near-term.  If they let the things that customers see go to hell like that...what the heck is going on with the critical components that we don't see (engine maintenance, fuselage, hydraulics, electronics, etc.).

I'm putting you on notice united airlines.  ala Stephen Colbert.Colbertonnotice4

Airlines’ Pain is Conferencing’s Gain

Wow.  People really do not “want” to travel for business any more.  CNN recently reported that the Airlines have recently lost over $18B to cancelled flights.

There was a time when the conferencing industry had to pitch the savings in travel by using conferencing services:

·         Teleconferencing ( a.k.a. Audio Conferencing)

·         Web Conferencing

·         Video Conferencing

That story has taken a 180 degree turn.  Employees are now challenged by their employers with answering the simple question, "is this travel necessary?"  With today's easy-to-use conferencing services, travel has become less necessary...and clearly more expensive. 

Face-to-face meetings are surely an important element of early relationship building in business, but is it necessary all the time? For those meetings that happen between face-to-face meetings, "tweeners" the answer is "no". Productive, low-cost alternatives exist with conferencing services.    Most, if not all businesses have a phone, internet browser and a broadband internet connection: the three necessary legs of conferencing's proverbial stool. (Web cameras are optional.) The only thing left is a small learning curve to have a complete multimedia conferencing experience.  Add the lsot time in travel getting to and from the meeting itself and conferencing becomes a no-brainer.

Need face-to-face? Even video conferencing, a flat industry for nearly a decade is making resurgence.  Timely innovations like HD Video Conferencing and Telepresence have helped to bolster its comeback.  Heck, just this week Cisco and a company called Musion introduced Holographic Video Conferencing demonstration with John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems in a presentation in India.

If fuel prices continue on the current trend ($4.00+), it goes without saying that conferencing services will continue to be the productive cost-effective business tool that they have always been. 

It’s not just a sales pitch anymore…