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.

No fly July (ahhh)

July 7, 2011

After extensive travel, it is nice to sit on my rock in the river, do some reading, and avoid airplanes for a month. I heartily recommend No Fly July (as well as No Fly Noel).

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

No Fly December

November 17, 2009

No shower reviews for a while because I have officially entered “no fly December.”  I also do “no fly July” which has a much better alliterative name.

As it turns out, my flight back from Amsterdam may be the last airplane ride of 2009!  Hot damn.  According to United, I traveled 139,989 miles in 2009.   Youch.  Five trips to Europe is pretty many for one year.

I’ve been tracking my trips since 1997.  This year I did 33 trips.

Here is a little tripometer with data from the last few years going back to 2001.  You can see how travel correlates with the talks I give (a subset of which are keynotes at major conferences).

Obviously, next year there should be plenty of fodder for the noplasticshowers blog.  Stay tuned!

Glass and mirrors. Very nice bathroom.

Vanity with view of the bathtub.