Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Travel Grumblings

I’ve probably done more business travel in the last four months in my new job than I have done in any job prior. For the most part, it’s been OK. Not too many delays, lots of friendly people, new places to visit, and good food (a little too much of that sometimes though unfortunately). It all was good until last Thursday.

By Thursday morning, we knew that our travel home from St. Charles, IL was going to be trouble. My colleagues from Minnesota and Iowa knew early on that they were going to be stuck there for another day. The rest of us were going to have to take our chances at O’Hare and Midway. The weather at both airports that afternoon wasn’t bad. It was a bit windy, but the weather there wasn’t the problem, the problem was the blizzard to the west and the nasty storms going through the east coast. Everything was delayed, and flights were being cancelled by the minute. I found out that my flight was cancelled sitting at the gate, not by a public announcement, but online, and then looking over to see that our flight wasn’t on the board anymore (Grumble #1).

So, after discovering that the last two flights back to DC were full, I made sure that I had a seat on a flight out the next morning and a hotel room for the night. Mission accomplished relatively quickly on both counts. One problem though became apparently quickly. I checked my bag, and wasn’t going to get it back (Grumble #2). OK, I understand that there are billions of bags moving through O’Hare at any one point in time, but I also know that I was not alone in my situation and needed by bag back that night for a change of clothes and for my personal items. No dice. There’s got to be easily track and recall bags on demand. If I could figure that out though, I’d be a rich man, right?

I get to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare soon after and discover at the front desk that there is no gift shop, nor any place to purchase anything that I might need for my stay overnight (Grumble #3). They had a toothbrush and shave kit for me, so that was something. But for a huge airport hotel, I expected more, and this one was apparently in a state of renovation and repair.

Seeing that it was still early, I headed to my room, then upstairs to the bar for a nightcap. Nice top-floor bar/restaurant with a view of O’Hare. One problem though, no TVs, so no games (Grumble #4). What bar (especially a hotel bar) doesn’t have TVs? If you are on your own, this hotel apparently would prefer for you to check in, go to your room, stay there, and leave. That was the sense I got anyway.

I did have some nice conversations with a few others at the bar in the same predicament as me. The most interesting one was with a flight attendant who was waiting for her Carry-Out meal. Flying as much as I have recently, I was curious what drew people into that profession. She said it was the travel first-and-foremost. Even though it took her away from her family, she had a lot of time at home as well. For some reason I thought there would be more to it than that, but then again, I was working off of a sample of one. Regardless, she had been in the industry for several years and truly appeared to enjoy it. You can tell the ones that do from the ones that don’t pretty easily.

As I type, I’m on a flight to Minnesota for a series of ATS demos tomorrow and Friday (more to come on this in my next post). I was originally scheduled to fly out tonight, but an Alberta Clipper heading to the Mid-Atlantic was going to cause problems with the timing of that flight. I wanted to move up to an earlier flight to get out ahead of the weather. I tried that through out corporate travel agency, but their arrangement with the airline required that they rebook both legs of the flight, creating the potential that I might lose my seat on the flight home (Grumble #5). It took two calls to the airline to get my flight changed, and as a result, I am up, up and away once again.

This will be my last multi-night trip until I head out to the ERExpo in San Diego next month (can’t wait!) Traveling this time of year sucks. Much of the reason why is in the hands of Mother Nature and out of my and the airlines’ control. I try not to let that bother me too much as a result. It’s those things that those in the travel industry do control however that cause me heartburn more often than not though. Thanks for hearing out my grumbles. Signing off from 35,000 feet…


At 11:52 AM, Anonymous rande mccollum said...

I need some networking in the DC area. Could you get in touch.

Rande McCollum


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