Tag: Travel RantsView All Tags
Every so often, a traveler needs to have a good rant. Here, Jaunted Editor Cynthia shares a few thoughts on an old guidebook and its dwindling power.
The book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die was first published in 2003. It was a steamroller of a hit, topping best seller lists (especially around graduation time in the spring) and finding its place on the bookshelves of anyone who’d listed “travel” as one of their interests.
I was a bookseller at the time, enjoying steady employment after a year of wandering Europe “on a shoestring," and getting that book into shopping bags was something of my specialty. Indeed I was suited for the job, having racked up postcard moments at nearly 100 of those 1,000 sites.
Ten years later, what has changed? The book is still for sale, now ranked #95,806 on Amazon. My area of expertise remains the sharing of travel information, although you’re getting it for free now. A shift has come, alas, in the way travelers compile bucket lists.
While we love to see that money is being invested in airports to make the flying experience more comfortable, sometimes we grow a little concerned that terminal upgrades are tilted too far towards the luxury traveler. In this rant, our contributor wonders when budget travelers will catch a break.
When I landed in Philly this weekend and picked up a copy of the Inquirer, the front-page story was all about the big upgrades taking place at Terminal F. The headline read: "Need an iPad? Or a Shower? A Haircut? Fine Dining? A redesigned Terminal F provides travelers with amenities they can't fit in their carry-ons." It continued:
Social Media / Twitter / Airline Industry / British Airways / Lost Luggage / Bad Ideas / Travel Rants / → All Tags
The growth of Twitter has had an uneven effect on the airline industry and its relationship to travelers.
On one hand, it has enabled the development of a real-time concierge service that really does help customers. We've publicly tweeted about airline-driven mistakes, then gotten transfered to direct messages, and then gotten incoming mobile phone calls...and then gotten our problems resolved. There are articles and even studies about the effectiveness of airlines' Twitter war rooms.
On the other hand, there's something about Twitterand it's the same thing with Yelp and TripAdvisorthat transforms some people into gigantic douchebags. Or at the very least, it allows them to publicly highlight their douchebaggery in breathtaking ways. Let's take this gem of a userthe guy who paid $1,000 to promote a tweet attacking British Airways for temporarily misplacing his father's luggageas a case study.
Jaunted Contributor Will McGough has tapped his toe in many a conga line created by the TSA and, despite all the wasted time, has refused to buy into any "fast pass" programs. Here's why:
You're all no doubt familiar with how frustrating the tax-dollar-funded TSA Security Checkpoints can be, especially when returning to the States and funneling through customs. As a result of the TSA's inefficiency, both with customs and security screening in general, many "side businesses" have popped up to allow people to be pre-screened and bypass the lines. These programs, such as Global Entry and Clear, are user-funded, meaning that the individual traveler pays extra for the privilege.
On the surface and in practice, these programs seem like slam dunks for frequent flyers. I mean, why wait in line when there are other options? Why not spend the $20 a year for Global Entry and bypass the peasants waiting in line? Really, it's a no-brainer, right? Well, allow me to present the other side of the coin, a perspective no one seems to be talking about.
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Picture this: you're all settled into your Business Class seat on what will be a 9-hour transatlantic flight when a man approaches to ask if you'd move to the bulkhead/front row so that he may take your seat in order to sit next to his colleague. You decline, and the man sweetens the deal by offering a $100 cash bribe. Do you take the money and move? Or stay put?
This was recently the case on a Stockholm to Newark flight (either United or SAS) for a traveler, who was approached by internet entrepreneur and Fab.com founder Jason Goldberg. Goldberg, rebuffed even after the $100 offer, was so miffed about the whole interaction that he took to venting on Facebook, and it naturally became a Valleywag story.
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We know a good traveler has tons of travel horror stories to share, some of which are no doubt hilarious, but have you ever boarded the wrong flight? Jaunted Contributor Will McGough successfully failed recently in Philadelphia, finding himself on a flight to Orlando when he wanted to go to Denver. How can this happen? He gives his first-hand account:
In all honesty, I never thought it possible. I mean, really. Between the terminal and desk monitors, the ticket scanning, and general awareness, how the hell could you get on the wrong plane? So many things would have to go right, err, wrong, for it to happen.
Which is why I was so confused. Granted, I was running a little late, but I was on time. I checked the terminal monitors upon clearing security, and saw my flight, US Airways 483 from Philly to Denver, gate A10. Having only about 10 minutes until the gates would close (it was about 8:30ish, flight left at 8:55), I hustled up, slowing my pace upon seeing the flight information on the monitor behind the desk and a line still formed at the gate.
There are different ways of "making it" in the world of airline travel. You could gain lifetime elite status on your favorite airline. You could travel the world on miles you accumulated in all kinds of clever ways. Or you could write a complaint note about a miserable experience that's so damn elegant that no less than Richard Branson declares it to be "brilliant." So congratulations Arthur Hicks. We know nothing about you in terms of who you are or where you live, but you've made it.
Branson blogged Hicks's letter - which wasn't even sent to Virgin, but to LIAT - last Friday. We've blockquoted it below from what we think is the original online source so you can read it for yourself. It's among the more elegant, witty beat-downs we've read in a long time.
The experience itself sounds miserable but, very importantly, it happened to him, and not to us, and not to you. So no worries. The P.S. is what really makes it shine.
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Sigh. Under pressure from flight attendants, victims' families, airlines, and outrageously outraged members of Congress, TSA is reversing a decision first announced in March under which the agency would allow small pocket knives and sports equipment as carry ons.
In retrospect this was kind of inevitable. It took less than a week for the objections to start. The decision became increasingly expensive for TSA to push through, and there was really no incentive for the agency to deal with the headache. All they wanted to do was speed up security lines a bit to make it easier for fliers to travel. If fliers weren't going to stand up for themselves in the face of political objections, the agency heads weren't going to take the hits.
Which brings us to what has frustrated us about this debate since the beginning.
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Rainn and his fellow Office cast mates were on their way to Scranton for The Office Wrap Party but their plans were derailed when their flight from Philly to Scranton left 10 minutes early. After missing the flight, Rainn unleashed a Twitter rant on U.S. Airways.
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We were going to use this post to turn today's US Airways meltdown at PHLluggage left in the rain, flights boarding at random times, etcinto a Teachable Moment about travel social media. Telling people to work with your on-the-ground reps is pretty much the definition of using Twitter wrong. But we're so blindingly furious at the airline right now that it's probably better for everyone to count to 10.
Maybe next week, after our blood pressure has returned to sub-heart attack levels, we'll have a group discussion about why telling people that they should know better than to wait in your airline's airline lounge isn't a great idea.
Anyway, this storyabout how Android phones might be able to hack airplanesis, first, real news, and second, interesting. So we're going to put aside our theory that US Airways reps are sadistic travel trolls determined to ruin our lives. Instead, how about how an Android app may or may not be able to "modify approximately everything related to the navigation of the plane"? Added the hacker who wrote the software: "that includes a lot of nasty things."
When future scholars write the definitive catalog of early 21st century First World Problems, the hysteria over the Carnival Cruises Triumph debacle will surely rank near the top. At last count there were well over a thousand different articles on Google News describing the experience as a "nightmare" for the passengers. This one has a picture of a woman kissing the ground once she got off the ship, as if she had just been released from a Soviet gulag or something.
Really? A "nightmare"? Is that what we're calling it when you have to spend a few extra days on a modern ocean liner the likes of which previous generations could barely imagine? There are millions of children in this world laboring under body-killing, brain-numbing, poverty-stricken misery. We understand that the cruise ship got a little bit icky toward the end, but broken toilets or not the passengers were on a fucking cruise ship. We watched news reports of the ship being towed into port. There were people dancing on deck of the fucking cruise ship they were on.
TSA / Airport Security / Airline Security / Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Travel Rants / → All Tags
We've been following TSA unionization for you since it became a thing in the summer of 2010, when we and everyone else expressed trepidation at the possibility that these guys would now be allowed to collectively bargain over pay and performance. To deal with concerns like ours, TSA officials did what they often and aggravatingly do whenever they make a boneheaded mistake or want to implement a moronic policy: they kind of sort of lied.
A few hours ago airport security screeners approved a contract that according to the Washington Post "among other things overhauls their pay for performance system to emphasize actual on the job performance over certification tests." Keep those elements in mind: pay, performance, and testing. We're going to ask you for some patience, because this news is kind of infuriating and we want to make sure that you see just how much.