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Hurricane Sandy was a big storm, but we’re here anyway on the New Jersey shore for a conference less than a week later. The area around Galloway, NJ looks great. No evidence of damage at all. And there were no lines for gas down here either. Rumors of the zombie apocalypse are apparently greatly exaggerated.

The Seaview is a gallant old hotel that reminds me of the Overlook Hotel as shown in the movie version of Stephen King’s book The Shining. It’s big. It’s rambling. It’s been here for a very long time.

Room 495 abuts the Pine View Suite which we set up to entertain in. The room is very generic feeling with a slightly worn style.

Comfortable bed in standard 4 poster old hotel style. Green carpet?!

Flowery curtains cover a very cold non-insulated sliding door.

The bathroom is just plain odd. Thin doors that close themselves with a somewhat disturbing automatic mechanism. Two rooms separated by another thin door?! Multiple showers both of which are old school.

Shower one: bathtub shower without any plastic.

Shower two: Glass door from the 70s like the one at your parents’ house.

Style? Frame blend.

The pine view suite is named by people practicing wishful thinking. The suite itself is stylish and nicely appointed in a pottery barn kinda way.

Pink. Hmm. And green floors. Hmm. The ’80s called and wants their style back.

Ralph Loren was here (before the really big logos took over).

Plenty of room for dancing (if there were a music playback device that you could plug an ipod into).

Nice enough. So why the wishful thinking? Contrast this view with the one from the Skamania Lodge.

Maybe the parking lot is named “pine”?

So all in all, a reasonable place for a meeting (feels kinda cavernous). Rooms and other common areas add up to a very high three showerheads (or a very low four showerheads).

FWIW, bringing along the doctor’s bag was a good idea.

A picture by Janne. Gorgeous.

A, O, Way to go United

August 27, 2012

(With apologies to The Pretender’s My City Was Gone.)

After several weeks not on airplanes, it’s back to the rat race—and all continues to be not well with United. It seems that Mr. Smisek still can’t run an airline that pleases and rewards its most loyal customers. I could have titled this posting My Airline is Gone.

I’m writing this entry in Buenos Aires, Argentina after a ridiculous bout of travel. Here’s what happened.

I should have known when I had to book the flight to Buenos Aires through Newark that something was fishy. United used to fly nonstop from IAD, but no longer. (Last time I came to Argentina, I flew that route.) What could go wrong adding a leg in the opposite direction of where you’re actually going? Hah.

More back story. My horrendous United experience earlier this year when I was de-upgraded by the confluence of an asshole and a pathetic set of gate agents plus all of my other railing against United’s bad service and Smisek’s bad leadership, led to my getting a call from a special assistant to Mr. Smisek who offered to help smooth things over. She actually did what she said she would, getting my bribes for bad service through the system and working to make sure I was upgraded to business using my now-mostly-useless systemwide upgrades on this trip to Buenos Aires. Right.

So I was getting ready to head to the airport and I got an email stating that the flight from IAD->EWR had been cancelled. I immediately called United and they had booked me to fly through Houston the next day. You guessed it. No upgrade and inferior equipment with no lay flat beds. Their default plan B was more like plan Z. 11 hours in economy overnight with 35 degree recline. I’m too old for that nonsense.

I figured out an alternative, flying through Cleveland (?!) from DCA to get to EWR (with no time to spare), got it ticketed via phone, and started driving like a maniac to DCA. By the time I got there, that flight had been delayed by weather so long that I would miss the flight from Cleveland (?!) to EWR and thus miss the leg to Buenos Aires. Fortunately, there was a superb gate agent at DCA named Corwyn Jeffers who suggested that I take a train to EWR. Apparently United would put me on that train for free (though none of the agents on the phone know that). Corwyn issued me a voucher and I snagged a cab to Union Station with 25 minutes to spare. Amtrak to NY. Yes, indeedy.

Of course the train was delayed thirty-five minutes (late departure due to poor line management), one-tracking outside of Delaware, etc., and I made it to EWR exactly 47 minutes before scheduled takeoff. I hustled from the station to Terminal C only to discover that it was too late to check a bag. Off to a very slow security line where they confiscated my toothpaste (too big) and almost caused me to miss boarding. EWR has no elite security line late at night, so be prepared to wait and fret while little old ladies who have apparently never flown before but who are ahead of you in line attempt to dig their laptops out of their suitcase.

Anyway, after all that nonsense I made it on the plane along with the last four Group 6 people still in line. I slept in my lay flat bed, all sweaty from the running. Takeoff was delayed for maintenance paperwork, but we landed on time. The crew was great.

But was the trip as a whole great? Not really. As we said back in Tennessee where I grew up, United can’t win for losing.

Sometimes my very glamorous existence has epic FAILs. Here’s one. Yesterday, the meeting I flew up to New York for did not happen. Emergency crisis? Bad planning? Who cares. All I know is that I ended up reading my email in NY when I could have been doing the same thing from my screened in porch. Alas. At least my trip to the Guggenheim more than made up for that, but then things took a major slide for the worse when I headed out to LGA.

My United Express flight from LGA to IAD was delayed, and delayed, and then delayed, and delayed again before it was finally cancelled at 9pm (90 minutes past its scheduled departure). And yes, it was the last flight to Dulles from NY. The 1K desk was not very helpful. They couldn’t even get the system to eject my checked luggage so I could retrieve my toothbrush. I was able (after the first delay) to get United to hold a spot on the first morning flight out of NY, which happened to be out of Newark. Always hedge your bets on the first delay. On my way past baggage claim to get a cab, I saw my luggage sitting in a pile and took it with.

Over by Newark there are a whole host of awful airport hotels. There must be thousands of plastic showers within a mile radius. So I checked into the concierge level at the Marriott. The Marriott remains a chain holding to everything this blog is about avoiding. Here is the polyester filled bedroom.

This room does not look bad in a picture. But it is. Plastic, polyester, blah.

The bathroom is about the same size as the one at 70Park, but no sense of style.

And the coup de grace. Yes, this shower is entirely fabricated of plastic.

This is a plastic shower, with instructions for idiots.

Here is the worst part of Marriott design. The light weight mirror closet that reflects the emergency escape instructions (which show just how many hamster cages are included on a floor).

yuck

Marriott remains very near the bottom of the noplasticshowers food chain. One showerhead. Avoid, Newark? Just take the train in to the city and pay 3 times more.