It sounds like the airlines are looking to shorten the amount of time we stand, tapping our feet and cursing, as the woman in 31D fusses with her bag and takes forever to tuck her coat into the overhead bin. They’re developing new ways to board that would speed up the process. I love the names—”rotating zone system” and the “reverse pyramid”—sounds like something cheerleaders do, doesn’t it? From Airlines Try Smarter Boarding in Wired:

    “An airplane that spends an hour on the ground between flights might fly five trips a day,” he explains. “Cut the turnaround time to 40 minutes, and maybe that same plane can complete six or seven flights a day.” More flights mean more paying passengers, and ultimately, more revenue.

    Many factors contribute to turnaround time, including baggage handling, refueling and aircraft cleaning. But a 1998 Boeing study shows that passenger boarding plays a significant role.

And if they could come up with a faster way to de-plane, I’d be one happy camper. That seems to take even longer than boarding for some reason.

Nap time

June 13, 2006

For some reason, I keep running across things about sleep. Like these sleep facts: Did you know that “17 hours of sustained wakefulness can lead to a decrease in physical and mental performance equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.05 (legally drunk)”? Or that people who spend five or more hours a day at a computer are more likely to be insomniacs? (So that’s my problem!)

But really, it could be a problem, especially since people generally don’t sleep as well on the road (or at meetings—well, not at the meeting, but away from home for one. You know what I mean). Take those already sleep-deprived attendees to a reception and give them alcohol, and you could have a problem on your hands. I don’t know what we can do about it—maybe build in a nap time after the luncheon?—but thought you’d like to know, anyway.

Here’s some excellent scoopage from the MeCo (short for Meetings Community) Google group:

jwire.com is a cool site where you can find the WiFi hotspots all over the place–just plug in the city/state, and you’re good to go. Also works for airports. Excellent.

And this (I don’t know where the poster got this from or I’d link to the original site):

    In an never ending quest to find new ways to separate the traveler from his/her money, airlines are now charging fees for such items as scuba equipment, surf boards, bicycles and other sporting gear. Regardless of weight, many airlines no longer include them as part of the luggage allowance and can impose anywhere from $25 to $150 to stow them on board. The problem is, the new policy is random, both by airline and within each airline. You may not be charged going, but you may be charged on your return, or vice-versa. So far, golf clubs and skis are exempt. Why? No one is saying but probably because the perception is that golfers and skiers are affluent business types who carry more weight (no pun intended) in the overall scheme of things.

The best advice they offer is to check curb-side, since “porters are less likely to impose fees than airline staffers.”

Feeling insecure?

May 19, 2006

Terri Hardin over at MISoapbox asks if anyone’s heard any jokes about Homeland Security lately. Well, Terri, not exactly. But I did find this site to be pretty funny. Called “The National Scrutiny Agency” and topped with a quasi-official-looking logo, it asks readers to send in their burning questions. Like:

    Q: Where’s Waldo?
    A: We’re still looking, but you can trust that we’re following up on many excellent leads.
    Q: Where did I leave my keys?
    A: Inside pocket of your gray jacket (it’s hanging in the front closet).

It won’t help with all the travel restrictions and requirements that make participants sometimes loathe to fly to meetings, but it gave me a laugh, anyway.
What’s not so funny is this article in Wired:

    Newly released government documents show that even having a high-level security clearance won’t keep you off the Transportation Security Administration’s Kafkaesque terrorist watch list, where you’ll suffer missed flights and bureaucratic nightmares.

    According to logs from the TSA’s call center from late 2004 — which black out the names of individuals to protect their privacy — the watch list has snagged:

  • A State Department diplomat who protested that “I fly 100,00 miles a year and am tired of getting hassled at Dulles airport — and airports worldwide — because my name apparently closely resembles that of a terrorist suspect.”
  • A person with an Energy Department security clearance.
  • An 82-year-old veteran who says he’s never even had a traffic ticket.
  • A technical director at a science and technology company who has been working with the Pentagon on chemical and biological weapons defense.
  • A U.S. Navy officer who has been enlisted since 1984.
  • A high-ranking government employee with a better-than-top-secret clearance who is also a U.S. Army Reserve major.
  • A federal employee traveling on government business who says the watch list matching “has resulted in ridiculous delays at the airports, despite my travel order, federal ID and even my federal passport.”
  • A high-level civil servant at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
  • An active-duty Army officer who had served four combat tours (including one in Afghanistan) and who holds a top-secret clearance.
  • A retired U.S. Army officer and antiterrorism/force-protection officer with expertise on weapons of mass destruction who was snared when he was put back on active-duty status while flying on a ticket paid for by the Army.
  • A former Pentagon employee and current security-cleared U.S. Postal Service contractor.
  • Also held up was a Continental Airlines flight-crew member traveling as a passenger, who complained to TSA, “If I am safe enough to work on a plane then I should be fine to be a passenger sleeping.”