RDU Terminal 2

RDU Terminal 2

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Travel Story - Farewell to a Trusted Companion

Location: Home

I just renewed my passport, and it struck me how many places we have gone in the last 10 years, including:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Saint Barthélemy
Saint Maarten
United Kingdom

Here is a photo showing my old friend, with stamps from each time I entered Heathrow airport.

In addition to trips to the UK,  I like to transit through because of the nonstop to and from RDU airport.  As you can see, the folks at the American Airlines desk at Heathrow get to see me fairly regularly.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Travel Humor - Time to Reboot the Plane

Location: RDU Airport, on the way to Washington DC

2:25 pm.  Our scheduled departure time came and went.  Waiting on the incoming plane.
3:00 pm.  On the plane.  Additional delay due to waiting for arriving passengers.
3:15 pm.  The pilot came on and said that there was a problem with the radio and it had to be rebooted.  However, doing so required that they power down the plane.  Fortunately we didn't have to do this procedure while in flight. 
3:20 pm.  Now we are further delayed while the flight attendants try to identify the rando who left a suitcase on the jetway.  After 3 pleas the guilty party finally fessed up so they could tag the bag.
3:25 pm. The pilot announced that the reboot didn't work and that the maintenance team was on its way.
5:15 pm.  The pilot came on and said that due to the delay in departure we needed to get back off the plane.  However, the flight wasn't canceled.
6:30 pm.  I decided that the flight would eventually be canceled, and that I better rebook before it was too late.  Got the last seat on the 10:20 am the next morning.
7:00 pm.  Back home,

Monday, October 6, 2014

Travel Story – Travel Disruptions Can Cost You

Location: RDU Airport, waiting to fly to DFW

We taxied out to the runway and sat for a bit.  Our captain came on the intercom and said we were going to have to take a circuitous route to DFW due to weather, and that we had to go back to the gate to get more fuel.  This was going to result in about a 90 minute delay in arriving at DFW.  See the map below the actual route that we took, including 30 minutes circling Houston. Good thing that we had that extra fuel.

The passenger seated next to me was very unhappy about the delay, and said that he would be subject to a $5000 penalty for being late (perhaps he was a pro athlete).  Since we were delayed only 90 minutes, he couldn't have much margin in his travel plans.  He then expressed his frustration by refusing to talk to the flight attendants.  He did however talk to himself.

Free tip for the traveler in question - Maybe next time you should go a day early so as to not have to pay a fat penalty if you are late.  Also, not talking to the flight attendants is just plain rude.  The delay wasn't their fault.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Travel Tip - Think Before You Pick That Aisle Seat

Location: Window seat on various flights

If you are lucky enough to be able to sleep on the plane (I'm not) and plan to do so, you probably don't want the aisle seat.

If you do take the aisle and immediately go to sleep, please don't get mad at the folks in your row when they have to clamber over your snoring sprawl.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Travel Tip - Better Listen to the Gate Agent

Location: DFW Airport, on a plane waiting to depart to Monroe LA

I was on a regional jet headed from Dallas-Fort Worth to Monroe.  It was a lightly loaded flight, and it looked like all of the passengers were on board, but we weren't closing up for departure. I then noticed that a gate agent was on the plane talking to a passenger about 3 rows ahead of me.  Due to the distance I couldn't hear all of the conversation, but the following came through:
  • The passenger was on the plane with a refunded (worthless) ticket and no boarding pass.  I can't figure how on earth that happens.
  • The gate agent wanted him off the plane but the passenger was refusing.
  • The first threat from the agent was that the passenger's daughter "could lose her privileges," making me think that the passenger was originally traveling on an airline pass or a ticket purchased with miles.  This threat had no effect.  To me that showed a degree of ingratitude and selfishness regarding his daughter.
  • The next threat was the agent was going to fetch the police.  As with the first threat, this one had no effect.  To me that displayed a large measure of foolishness.
The gate agent then departed and the flight attendant came on and said that we would have a "slight delay" but specified no reason.  Ten minutes later two police officers boarded the plane and the passenger decided he would deplane.

Travel hint - When the gate agent says he will summon the police, it's not an idle threat; it's a promise.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel Story - It's an Up and Down World

Location: Flying from RDU to Denver via Chicago

4 days ago - Good news - Received free upgrades all the way
2:00 pm - Bad news - flights massively delayed due to weather in Chicago
2:30 pm - Good news - rerouted through Charlotte, with an upgrade from Charlotte to Denver
6:20 pm - Bad news - my seat 4F is not actually in first class; it's the first row behind the bulkhead
6:40 pm - Good news - seat 1A in first class is empty - maybe I can get it
6:45 pm - Bad news - two people are ahead of me on the upgrade list
7:10 pm - Good news - The flight attendant in first class comps me a meal and a drink

Sometimes it all works out in the end.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Travel Humor - There’s a Reason

Location: Bangalore Airport, waiting to fly to Doha, Qatar on my way home

Question: Why does it take 60 minutes to load a Qatar Airways flight?

Answer: 15 minutes to board, and 45 minutes to argue with the flight attendants about the seats.  And yes, the seats are assigned, but that doesn't seem to matter to some folks.

Yelling, screaming and crying by spoiled brats, refusing to sit in the assigned seats … and that was the adults!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Travel Tip - Hourly Parking at RDU Terminal 2

Location: RDU Airport, Terminal 2 Hourly Parking

This hint applies only to terminal 2 at RDU airport.  If you are going to the hourly/short-term parking to wait for someone, the upper level is sometimes full.  You have two options: go to the lower level, or go through the gate to the next section.  If you are in this situation, go to the lower level.  There are barriers at all levels, so once you go through the gate you can't get back.  I have been in the situation where I went through the gate, went to the lower level, and saw great parking spots just out of reach behind a barrier.  I had to park very far away because I didn't want to go out and come back in again.

The gate does have a sign above it that indicates that you are leaving hourly parking, but it is easy to miss.  I have talked to many folks who didn't see it and fell into the same trap as me.

Travel Tip - A Reason to Take the Middle Seat

Location: RDU Airport - Waiting to fly to Bangalore via London on AA174 AKA "Rusty"

Most widebody airliners are set up with 2 aisles in coach.  It's usually best to avoid the crummy seats in the middle between the aisles, but it can also be good if you have the middle section to yourself so you can lie down.  If you are fortunate enough to have this situation, be sure to secure your good fortune by sitting in the middle seat.  On my fairly empty 767 (2-3-2 seating) I saw two women who each had a 3-seat middle section all to themselves.  After takeoff the first moved from her assigned aisle seat to the middle, thus discouraging space poachers.  The second stayed in her assigned aisle seat, and had the other end of her once-empty row grabbed by an enterprising passenger. Move quickly!

P.S. The second woman was eventually able to eject the interloper and lie down.  You may not be so lucky (or perhaps assertive).

Travel Humor - English, the Universal Language for Snark

Location: RDU Airport - Waiting to fly to Bangalore via London on AA174 AKA "Rusty"

While waiting to board I was standing next to a German family: Mom, Dad, sister and 2 little brothers.  The kids all looked to be grade-schoolers.  The boys were being a bit rambunctious and things were getting out of control, with more and more arguing in German.  Finally one of the boys did something to big sis (who looked to be about 12) and she had had enough.  She struck a pose with one hand on her hip, the other with a finger wagging, and said in very good English "oh no you just di-int!" and then resumed arguing with brother in German.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Travel Story - A Bolt, A Bolt, My Kingdom for a Bolt

Location: On a plane at DFW airport in Dallas

We were delayed a bit for an unspecified mechanical problem.  Later it was announced that one of the seats was broken, and that it needed a bolt and washer.  A maintenance crew was dispatched to get the parts and bring them back to the plane.

Apparently it was a very specialized bolt and washer.  Here is the crew getting the bolt and washer out of inventory.

That's right - they got an entire seat assembly out of storage and took the bolt and washer from it.  Gotta hand it to them for a "git 'er done" attitude.

 Best comment - Margaret Hinrichs: Where there is a will, there is a way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Travel Humor - I knew smoking was bad, but should we jail smokers?

Location: Greyhound station, seen while walking to my hotel in downtown Dallas

I have seen plenty of designated smoking areas, but this one takes the cake.  Don't want those smokers to escape!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Travel Humor - Travel in the UK is Different

Location:  Traveling by Train from London Paddington Station to Bath. 

My train trip was diverted, and the conductor announced that it was because "cows got on the line and broke it." Must be some of those soccer hoodlum cows.

Later the conductor announced that "the cows broke a train" rather than the line itself. A high stakes game of chicken gone horribly wrong?

Here is the posting from the BBC web site. The "delays of up to 30 minutes" was wildly optimistic.

Best Comment - Heath Thomas: Were they Chick-fil-A cows?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Travel Image - Home Away From Home

Location: Walking in Collindale, North of London. 

I joke about London being my home away from home. I really felt that way when I saw this "Carolina Fried Chicken" shop in Collindale.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Travel Humor - No Smoking?

Location: Arriving at London Heathrow Airport from Budapest. 

A blast past from the past AKA something you don't see every day: While walking through the terminal to immigration at London's Heathrow airport I saw a very unusual sight - a guy fresh off a flight, sitting down in the hallway, smoking a cigarette. He finished it just as I walked by, crushed it on the floor, tossed it, and went on his way. Guess he had heard about the long lines at Heathrow immigration and decided he couldn't wait that long.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Travel Humor - No SIM for You!

Location: Westfield Stratford City Shopping Center, Near London's Olympic Park. 

Due to the high international roaming charges on my phone I wanted to buy a UK pay-as-you-go SIM card.

Store 1: No nano SIMs available.
Store 2: Had nano SIMs, but no pay-as-you-go.

Fine - I will sign up for one month. Still couldn't buy it, because 3 clerks, a senior clerk, and a manager all failed to complete the sales transaction - with my sister's UK credit card!

Isn't modern technology great!

Travel Story - The First Shall Be Last

Location: Prague Airport, Czech Republic

I had to book a ticket from Prague to Budapest at a fairly late date.  It was a small plane (ATR-72), and the only seats left were "Business Class."  I get plenty of upgrades based on airline status, but I never willingly pay for them.  As I had little choice, I forked over the money and moved on.

The night before the flight I went online to check in. I was a little surprised to see that the "Business Class" seats were in rows 15 and 16.  I figured they started numbering at 15, and picked 16 so I wouldn't have a bulkhead seat.

I was very surprised when I learned that the "Business Class" was in the last 2 rows of the plane, which explains the rows 15 and 16.  The alleged benefits of "Business Class" were:
1) Access to the airline club in the Prague airport (very nice, but not worth the premium)
2) Supposed early boarding (worthless, as we were bussed out to the plane en mass)
3) "Business Class" seat (worthless - worst seat on the plane according to SeatMaestro - see below)
4) "Premium" meal (almost worthless - microscopic bit of salad)

Even so, it was an interesting experience to pay a premium to sit in the back.

Boarding Pass:

Seat Map:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Travel Humor - Not as Far As You Think

Location: Dulles Airport, Washington DC. 

More airport humor. On my way home to Raleigh-Durham via Washington DC. While waiting to board the flight, a random passenger approached me.

Passenger: "When are scheduled to arrive?"
Me: "About midnight."
Passenger: "Is there a time change?"
Me: (momentarily stunned) (pick jaw off floor) (suppress snark) "No"

Best comment - Ransom Pate: “Ah yes, those sneaky north/south time zones”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Travel Humor - A Very Long Trip

Location: Boston Logan Airport. 

I observed a "mature" couple walking along side by side, but farther apart than is usual for a couple.  Their unhappy faces caught my eye, and it was impossible not to overhear their "discussion":

Her: Yes, you are.
Him: No, I'm not.
Her: Yes, you are.
Him: (long pause) No, I'm not.
Her: (quickly) Yes, you are.

They were out of earshot at this point, but the back-and-forth appeared to continue.

Not sure where they were flying, but I do know it was going to be a very long trip.

Best comment - Sheryl Thomas Fowler: “Hopefully to a "grow up" conference?”