Jul 25

Flight Diary and Flying

Not too long ago I became aware of a site called Flight Diary.  On this site you can input all of your flights you have or are going to take. It’s a neat way of documenting and commemorating different trips and flights you have taken.fd-logo

The first day I signed up I added all my planned flights for the year and will be going back to add some older flights, I’ll probably start with the more interesting ones first.  My only issue with the site is that it takes quite a bit of time to set it up, you need to add in the flight number, airline, departure and arrival times. I wish it could at least pull the times from the airlines after you enter the date, airline and flight number – that would make it much easier.  But this just means that the site has room to grow.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 9.42.15 AMAfter setting that up I became aware of an App that does a similar thing, Flying. The app is currently in Beta, but does a similar thing as Flight Diary, with one distinct advantage, it syncs with the TripIt App. If you don’t have or have never used TripIt, it’s not an advantage. But, if you do – all you have to do is sync the two apps and all of your flights that are in TripIt will be imported to Flying.  Within minutes I had badges for flying across the Pacific, Atlantic, Equator…  I do want to add a few flights to it from before I had TripIt, but this was an easier start for me.  Either way, both apps/sites are a great way to commemorate your travel.

Jan 08

Flying Through Adversity

The day I flew to Australia started like any other – waking up early from insomnia, traffic going to work, packing a suitcase…  Ok, it wasn’t totally normal, but not too crazy.

Work was crazy that day though, really crazy.  I love when god does that little thing just before a trip to make you really appreciate your trip. With all that craziness and running around that day I opted to shower before leaving for the airport, but right before that happened the news showed an incident at LAX.  It didn’t seem out of control or anything and I went to take quick shower. I was thinking ahead to the 6 hour flight, layover, then 14 hour flight, followed by a day in Brisbane before flying to Melbourne.

When I returned from my shower LAX was closed, there had been a shooting with multiple injuries.  The date was November 1, 2013 and incase you’re unaware of the incident, or just forgot, here is the story from CBS. As much as I thought that sucked for those in LAX, in particular the victims I was trying to reason with myself – would my flight to LAX be canceled or just late.  What would happen to my flight to Brisbane, the plane should have already landed in LAX that morning, so at least there was that.  This was not the most stressful flight I’ve ever flown, but it was definitely stressful.

With that I left several things behind in my office, including Rasputin, and went to the airport.  I’ll leave much of my antics of that day for another post, but I will say that I was able to get Rasputin before my flight took off.

The first weird thing that happened was while waiting on line to check my bag.  I’m standing there minding my own business when the girl behind me says, “You’re going to LAX, they just shot up the place.” (nervous) giggle, giggle.  I tried to say that I thought security would be tighter in LAX because of it, which I did believe.  She made some other nervous comment and then I was saved by a guy who wanted to check my luggage in.

The next weird thing, I did not hear one peep about the shooting once I was inside the airport.  Most airports seem to have CNN or some news type program on.  I didn’t happen to see many TV’s to start at Delta’s Terminal 3 at JFK and if they were on, they were not on the news.  It was nice not to have that extra bit to add to the stress, but it was also surreal that things were so calm.

My flight to LAX took off on time and our pilot did update us on any potential impact to our flight and what they were doing in response.  Many flights had been sent to other airports earlier in the day and although they were expecting an on time arrival they did give us additional fuel incase there were landing delays.  We were updated closer to landing time that we were going to land early, but would have a delay in getting a gate.  We could expect an hour wait for a gate, which later changed to a half hour wait, but was in reality just over an hour.  Apparently someone stole our gate then there was an accident with a luggage handler truck – you can’t make this stuff up!

I used that time waiting for a gate to chat with people on social media, but mostly to figure out what to do in LAX.  My Virgin Australia flight from LAX to Brisbane was supposed to take off from Terminal 3, which was where the shooting was.  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen.  The lounge I had access to (Virgin America) was also in Terminal 3 and lets face it, if you want a lounge on any day, it’s a day like this.  I used social media to find out that my flight would go out of Tom Bradley International Terminal and got close to accurate information about where to check my bags for the flight. I say slightly accurate because the desk #’s were off by a few numbers so I had trouble find it.

I expected chaos and mayhem in LAX. It wasn’t that bad, but the check in desks at Tom Bradley were crazy!  Virgin Australia has 2 flights a day so they were trying to check in the people to Sydney first since that was the earlier flight, but they did check me in earlier, probably because I was in business class.  The poor girl had to hand write each ticket. I’m not exactly sure why, but I know they didn’t have the right equipment at Tom Bradley and had to do manual boarding checks instead of the usual electronic scan they do.  I’m assuming it’s part of some procedure they have for times like these.

The line for security wasn’t any worse than at Orlando’s airport, but there was certainly a long.  And no TSA Precheck line either (I’ll write about how much I love TSA Precheck another day).  I figured I should just be glad the airport was open.

Now that I was in the terminal I got a light meal and a drink before looking for my gate.  Apparently, when your airline does not normally fly out of Tom Bradley you end up with the furthest gate from civilization possible.  I think I walked 10 minutes, a solid 5 from the last real shop or food place.  It was a big room with some seats, gates and bathrooms.  I wanted to charge my iPhone, which was now dying, but outlets that weren’t being used were scarce.  Eventually the guy I was sitting next to left and I was able to charge enough to get me onto the flight.

I know it sounds all “first world problem” to worry about my phone being charged.  But, we were getting very little information in the terminal (I don’t think they had much to give). My flight that was supposed to take off at 11 PM didn’t board until 2 AM, and changed gates several times.  Being by myself, that was stressful.  I had also been up for 27 hours by the time I boarded the flight and was getting punchy.  At least with Facebook I was able to update my friends and family and just complain in general.  And actually some of my friends did help me track down information about my flight.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

Social Media is your friend.  I know there are people who think Facebook will only get you into trouble and they don’t get Twitter.  That’s fine, you can think what you want.  But without Twitter it would have been much harder to figure out where to go at LAX for my flight.  Virgin Australia used Twitter to post updates on their operational changes and answered DM’s for those who needed assistance.  Try calling an airline when 500+ people want to know about your operational change during an incident.  All you want to know is what terminal to go to and you have to fight to talk to someone with the people who are afraid to fly and now they want a different seat and can they get a kosher meal at the last-minute.  Or whatever it is that people call about.

If you’re flying (or using any type of public transportation) charge your phone.  It seems so simple, but in times of “crisis” everyone wants a wall plug because they’re stuck waiting around a long time with little information and need information.  Even better, buy and extra battery pack before you go to the airport, they’re more expensive there and at times like these, your phone might be your lifeline to information and combating boredom.

As crazy as that day was, things went pretty smoothly.  I could complain about the lack of information, or the delays, but in the world of air travel, you have to expect them.  On a day like that, I was just happy to make it safely from point A to point B with minimal disruption.

Nov 08

Gogo Inflight Movies

gogo-logo-lockYou have a 3 hour flight and you want to watch a movie.  BUT, by the time you take off and land there isn’t enough time to watch that 3 hour movie you’ve wanted to see.  If you’re a Gogo Inflight customer, they have a solution for that.

 

With Gogo Movies you purchase a movie to watch on your flight and you can continue it after your flight. From their facebook page:

All you need is a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or tablet. Once you hit 10,000 feet, just switch on your device and connect to the ‘gogoinflight’ Wi-Fi network. Opening your browser will take you to the Gogo homepage, where you can access Entertainment On Demand.

 

From there, you can browse titles and watch previews at no charge. Once you’ve found what you want, make your purchase, download the plugin if prompted, and enjoy the show. You can even pause, rewind, and finish watching from the comfort of your destination!

You don’t need to pay for a Gogo pass for this service either!  You just need to download the app to your portable device and find the Gogo wifi on your flight. The rental is usually available for 24 hours, enough time to finish a movie when you get back to your hotel.

The price is 99 cents for TV Shows and $3.99 for movies.

Happy Flying!

Oct 04

Website: Johnny Jet

jj-logo-newJohnny Jet is a blogger I kinda met, as in I stood next to him at the TBEX Conference a few years ago and didn’t have a conversation with him.  But his story is interesting, he used to be afraid to fly, in his effort to get over it he has become a top blogger in the travel world. You may have also heard him on This Week In Tech with Leo Laporte.

Johnny’s site has resources on anything travel related.  Looking for a gadget, he’s got suggestions.  Need to know how to get upgraded to first class – yup, he’s got tips on that.  Need to book travel, yes, there is info on that too.  Like I said, info for anything and everything you could need.

I like his weekly newsletter, I like that it’s weekly.  Frequent enough that it stays in your mind, but not so frequent that you say, “damn another email from Johnny.”  It’s got a synopsis of what’s been going on in the past week, as well as advertising travel giveaways (usually nice trips). Johnny’s site is full of information and should be on the short list of any travelers list of planning websites.

Oct 02

Frontier Airlines, What is that on my tail?

When I fly domestically I usually fly Jetblue, though I am flexible depending on routes, flight times and prices.  If I can’t fly Jetblue I try to stick with one of the airlines I have miles with: United, American, Delta.

Between those 4 airlines you can get through most of the US.  But every once in a while you can’t.  For my flight from Denver to Durango I had the choice of an overpriced flight with United (I think my round trip from JFK to DEN was cheaper then the one way from DEN to DUR) or flying Frontier.  I chose Frontier and used their “Classic” service which included a checked bag, zone 2 boarding and a better seat.

My biggest issue with the flight was actually the airport. Frontier has a lot of gates in one small area, with several flights in one corner departing in a short amount of time. It was extremely crowded by the gate at boarding. Which made it kinda funny when they called for their elite customers to board and no one moved.

Once the plane was boarded I realized that all the people were not standing around for this flight since the plane was barely half full.  That meant I had the whole row to myself, I don’t remember the last time that happened to me, if ever.

My pilot was a woman, which instantly warmed my heart to Frontier. But the product was good. The seats were leather, as comfortable as other coach seats and had TV’s at each seat.  Yes, you did have to pay for Direct TV and movies, but at least there was the option.  Since this flight was only an hour and I wanted to take a nap, I never even considered it.

We had no service on this flight, and with only 42 minutes in the air I can understand why.  However, I did once take a 30-minute flight that offered full drink service. That was on Egypt Air’s Aswan to Abu Simble flight. I don’t expect that, but it would be nice if they came by and asked if you wanted a drink, or if they came around with bottles of water and asked if you wanted one.  That could easily be done on a half full flight. Of course I did take a 15-minute nap right after take off and could have missed that too.  But, the FA’s did say there wouldn’t be service; but, if you needed something to let them know.

In the end, I found myself more curious about the airline. I remember seeing their CEO on Undercover Boss and got a good vibe about the airline from that show. Finally flying them that feeling continues. They also seem to be well invested in Colorado, it’s nice to see a company that could easily make things purely about profits want to be a part of their community.

Sadly, I have no idea what animal was on the tail of my plane.

UPDATE:  Via Twitter Frontier contacted me and let me know that Fritz the Mountain Goat was on my tail.  Thank you Frontier!

Aug 30

SuiteDeals

JetSuiteToday’s tip is JetSuite Deals

If you’re like me you can’t afford to travel on a private jet, but would still love to have the experience.  JetSuite might be the answer to your bucket list item.  JetSuite offers private jet service for those who can afford it.  However, they run into a little problem when people take a plane one way and the plane needs to go back to its base.

The answer to that problem is to discount those return flights and publish them to the public with prices starting at $536 for the whole plane.  No, it’s probably not the cheapest way to travel and no they don’t offer round trips.  But, these obstacles might be a problem for some and a solution for others.