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No Fly July 2013

June 30, 2013

It’s that time again. Time to take a break from travel, slow down, do some thinking, and move all of my meetings to the rock in the river.

The 4 o’clock rock.

No flying means no United (yay!), and no hotels, and thus no showers to write about. See you in August!

No Fly Noel 2012

December 2, 2012

It’s December, and that’s a good thing. No fly noel begins on December 1st. A break from relentless travel is just what the doctor ordered. Well kinda. I am flying to New Orleans next weekend for a leukemia cup event since Team Tartan won the cup this year. It’s not work though, so it doesn’t count!

Travel was up one notch from last year, and that’s bad. I’m looking for another 10% reduction somehow. The Coal Stove Sink hack seems to have played up to its max (17 guests again this year) and no fly July and no fly Noel hold firm.

2012 Tripometer.  The data show that trips are up.  That is bad.

2012 Tripometer. The data show that trips are up. That is bad.

During 2012, I flew 100,323 miles (so far…one trip still to go, and two segments not yet recorded by United whose computer system is blazingly slow). Speaking of United, did I mention that UNITED AIRLINES SUCKS?! I meant to say that. 2012 was even worse that 2011. Astoundingly awful. Lets review:

  1. United off to a Pedantic 2012
  2. United Express Random Number Generation
  3. No Upgrade for You -or- United Sucks in 2012 Too
  4. United: Small Patch of Light Replaced by Darkness
  5. United Express: Mesa vs Shuttle America, Mesa Loses
  6. United Airlines Sucks in Advance
  7. How Does United Suck? Let us Count the Ways
  8. Frequent Travel is for the Birds: United Still Sucks
  9. United International Travel Not What it Used to Be
  10. A, O, Way to Go United
  11. United Sucks: One Third the Airline for the Same Full Price -or- All Your Regional Upgrade Certs Are Belong to Us
  12. United Regional Travel Woes
  13. How United Airlines Deals with Sandy
  14. United Airlines Still Sucks: Global Premiere Upgrade Useless Again
  15. United Airlines New Low: 2012 Service Sucks

Holy cow, 15 entries about why United blows chunks?! I guess 2012 was worse than I remembered. I really need to fly a different airline.

It should be very clear why no fly Noel is important. Must retain sanity and rest my weary bones beside the fire. Then I can do it all over again in 2013.

No fly July 2012

July 16, 2012

After a two week delay (including a trip to Athens on United), no fly July has finally arrived.

No flying means no hotels. No hotels equals no strange showers at all (plastic or otherwise). See you after August 20th.

By now, “no fly July” is usually nicely underway and the river beckons. This year’s edition is being postponed until after I get back from Athens on July 16th. That means it’s really going to be more like “no fly July/August conglomeration.”

Maybe Athens will look like this.

I love No Fly Noel almost as much as No Fly July. Solstice parties, sitting by the fire and guests in the guesthouse. It’s important to stop and think from time to time.

So, I must admit that it was with some reluctance that I got back on an airplane again yesterday for my first trip of 2012. I flew to SFO. In the good years, this was a route that United used 777s on. Now they fly mostly airbuses. With only 8 seats in First Class and no business class at all, the chances of an upgrade are definitely not so good. Being number one on the upgrade list is of no importance if the upgrade list is not accessed.

United A319 configuration. Good luck with that upgrade, bub.

Chances are much better on a 777-200 with three classes of service.

Anyway, economy plus on an airbus to SFO is like riding on a greyhound bus in the sky. I had a meal out of a box. We did arrive early, so that was good. But United is doing nothing to make me enjoy flying. Will 2012 be any better than 2011? We’ll have to wait and see…but so far the tea leaves are not aligning.

Why park your better planes in Arizona?

No Fly Noel 2011

December 1, 2011

Using last year’s new nomenclature, I welcome a respite from airplanes during the month of December for no fly noel. There won’t be too many hotel entries this month!

This year the “no fly July” and “no fly Noel” hack kept my travel almost reasonable. The ramping up of Coal Stove Sink helped too. We had 17 professional friends visit in 2011 and the data show another annual 10% reduction in travel (20% over the last two years). You go guesthouse. It’s almost always more fun to have people come visit than it is to hop on an airplane again anyway.

The 2011 tripometer. Trips are trending in the correct direction (down a bit).

During 2011, I flew 100,732 miles on United. My lifetime miles pile now tops out at 1,088,046 (FWIW, I started flying too much in 1996). And for the record, this has to have been the worst year for travel on United since I started doing it. United Airlines’ story of suckiness started with my first 2011 trip in January and kept up a consistent beat of suckiness even to the last trip. The worst flight all year had to be the economy trip to Europe in August. Supremely awful job United. Here’s to major improvement in 2012. (Jeff Smisek, less on Marketing and more on Operations next year, huh?)

I see no major respite from travel coming in 2012. There is simply no substitute to doing business in person, looking people in the eye, and developing a real human relationship.

I am looking forward to resting my bones beside the fire in the meantime.

Imagine not having been on an airplane for around six weeks, spending lots of time having meetings on the rock in the river or on the screened-in porch, and then somebody jars you awake from this idyll and puts you on a plane to Las Vegas.  Yeah that Las Vegas: Disney + Porn + Walmart Shoppers.  For a hackerboy conference. That’s how my week is going.

No fly July? Over.

In August, Dulles is a zoo even on a Tuesday night. Sunburned summer travelers with both grandma and several strollers in tow. Of course the United flight was delayed for multiple reasons. The flight was at least very fast and we made up the lost time in the air. I brought a slice of pizza on board even though I was upgraded…everybody else thought that was a good idea, especially the flight attendant.

Here in Las Vegas at the Palazzo, they use a different vocabulary from most other hotels (except one in NY I seem to recall). Here, a “suite” is just a bigger than usual rectangular room. Unlike, say, in Boston at the Marlowe where a suite is a suite with actual doors between rooms. Upon query, I was told that on the Strip, most rooms are 400 square feet and so apparently a “suite” is anything bigger than that no matter how uninspired the design.

Here, you be the judge. The virtual rooms in this “suite” are demarcated by a slight set of stairs and some kind of marble peninsula. The drop down effect reminds me of a spilt level ranch in suburbia. Um, yay?

The grand suite peninsula.

The grand suite stairway to heaven.

I was originally assigned a room with two tiny beds. That got fixed. The bed here in 27-710 is good.

Nice bed on attempt number 2.

And I am pleased to report that the bathroom pod is up to snuff with lots of mirrors and a glass cubicle for showering.

The most amusing part of the shower are two extra stubby little shower heads positioned halfway down the wall by the controls. We won’t even bring up what those might be for.

The shower, complete with 3 showerheads. Note the two knobby ones halfway up the wall.

The Prestige package is worth looking into. Breakfast is reasonably good and the 23rd floor concierge desk is responsive and helpful.

We’re pleased that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas…(since we hope that we never have to come back and that it does not escape to infect the rest of the world). See, the problem with the Palazzo hotel is the hordes of people and the smoky casino that you must walk through to find the elevator. Las Vegas is, simply put, just awful.

So, if you have to stay in Vegas, you might as well stay here. The service is good (friendly and responsive) and the rooms do not suck. But there is only so good a place can be here in Las Vegas, resulting in three showerheads for the Palazzo.

In food and drink related news, I stumbled on some great mixology in the Venetian Hotel at the Bouchon. Aureole is still a very good restaurant with a superb wine list (unfortunately trapped on a Windows tablet with typical Microsoft search—but it’s not google). And the new restaurant China Poblano at the Cosmo is out of this world. Amazing fusion by Jose Andre. Too bad about the Vegas part.

Glass and mirrors. Very nice bathroom.

Vanity with view of the bathtub.